According to Russia’s civil aviation service, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the commander of a short armed insurrection against the Russian military earlier this year, was on board a jet that crashed north of Moscow on Wednesday, killing all 10 persons on board.

Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Business

The creator of the Wagner private military business has been the focus of intense conjecture ever since he led the rebellion, thus the accident instantly prompted questions.

At the time, Vladimir Putin, the president, called the rebellion “treason” and a “stab in the back” and vowed retaliation. However, Prigozhin’s allegations were quickly dismissed. The Wagner commander, whose soldiers were among Russia’s strongest fighting units in Ukraine, was permitted to go to Belarus although rumor has it that he occasionally appeared in Russia.


The incident also occurs after news broke in Russian media that the commander of the air force, a senior general connected to Prigozhin, had been fired.

Yevgeny Prigozhin’s accident

According to witnesses reported by Russia’s state news service Tass, a jet carrying three pilots and seven passengers that was traveling from Moscow to St. Petersburg crashed around 300 kilometers (185 miles) north of the city.

Rosaviatsia, Russia’s civil aviation organization, immediately declared that he was on the manifest and subsequently stated that the airline had confirmed he was in fact on board.

Earlier, Dmitry Utkin, whose call sign Wagner became the company’s name, and Prigozhin were both aboard, according to Vladimir Rogov, a Russian-appointed official in the partially controlled Zaporizhzhia area of Ukraine.

Joe Biden, the vice president of the United States, said, “I don’t know for sure what happened, but I’m not surprised.”

When news of Prigozhin’s death first surfaced, Chatham House scholar Keir Giles cautioned against jumping to conclusions. In an effort to hide his travels, he said that “multiple people have changed their names to Yevgeniy Prigozhin.”

Let’s not be shocked if he soon appears in a brand-new video from Africa, Giles said.

A private plane that Prigozhin had previously flown took off from Moscow on Wednesday night, according to flight monitoring data seen by The Associated Press, and its transponder signal vanished minutes later.

The jet was in the air and moving quickly when the communication abruptly terminated. A partial tail number that matched a plane previously flown by Prigozhin might be spotted in a photo of smoldering debris shared on social media by a pro-Wagner account.

A jet was seen falling like a stone from a thick cloud of smoke, spinning wildly as it did so, in videos posted by the pro-Wagner Telegram group Grey Zone. A frame-by-frame examination of two films by The AP revealed that an explosion mid-flight was likely the cause of the freefalls, which may happen when an aircraft suffers significant damage. According to the pictures, the plane appears to be missing a wing.

As is customary when opening such investigations, Russia’s Investigative Committee launched one into the disaster on suspicion of breaking air safety regulations.

Even if verified, Prigozhin’s passing won’t likely have any impact on Russia’s conflict in Ukraine, where his troops engaged in some of the bloodiest combat over the previous 18 months.

After seizing Bakhmut, a city in the eastern Donetsk area, in late May, his men withdrew from the front lines of battle. The Russian soldiers had fought valiantly to take Bakhmut for months, maybe in the worst engagements of the whole conflict.

After the uprising, Russian authorities declared that his soldiers could only go back to Ukraine as members of the regular army.

Wagner is undertaking reconnaissance and search operations, Prigozhin said this week in his first recruiting video since the mutiny, and is “making Russia even greater on all continents, and Africa even more free.”

Gen. Sergei Surovikin was reportedly fired from his role as the head of Russia’s air force this week, according to unidentified sources in Russian media. The commander of Russia’s operation in Ukraine at one time, Surovikin, hasn’t been spotted in the media since the mutiny, when he made a video speech pleading for Prigozhin’s soldiers to retreat.

Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Video about death rumors

A previously unreleased and undated video showing Wagner Group chief Yevgeny chatting to the camera while travelling in a car and discussing death rumors surfaced days after Prigozhin’s passing and funeral.

The Ukrainian interior minister’s advisor, Anton Gerashchenko, uploaded the footage on social media.

According to Yevgeny Prigozhin in the video, “For anyone discussing whether I’m alive or not and how I’m doing […] it’s a weekend in the second half of August 2023. To those who talk about my liquidation, private life, earnings, or anything else, strictly speaking, everything’s alright.” In Africa, I am.

The uniform that Yevgeny Prigozhin is sporting in the video, as noted by the Russian media, is really the same one that was worn in a film that was released on August 21—during the Wagner Group’s mission in Africa.


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