Yevgeny Prigozhin, a prominent Russian mercenary, was listed as a passenger on the plane that crashed in Russia, killing all 10 people on board, according to Russia’s civil aviation authorities.
According to social media accounts connected to the Wagner mercenary outfit, Russian air defenses shot down his private plane.
The Grey Zone Telegram channel wrote that Prigozhin passed away “as a result of traitors to Russia acting in this manner.”
In June, Prigozhin launched a coup attempt against the Russian military.
As a result of direct orders from President Vladimir Putin, Prigozhin abandoned his “justice march” on Moscow, according to some specialists in Russia and abroad, who contend that the uprising was manufactured.
On the same day that senior Russian general Sergei Surovikin apparently lost his job as head of the air force, a plane crashed on Wednesday in the Tver region, northwest of the nation’s capital Moscow.
Gen. Surovikin had not been seen in public since the rebellion but was known to get along well with Prigozhin.
According to Russia’s Rosaviatsia aviation authority, Prigozhin’s Embraer-135 (EBM-135BJ) was carrying seven passengers and three crew members on a flight from Moscow to St. Petersburg on Wednesday.
Dmitry Utkin, a senior Wagner commander and the organization’s founder, was also listed as a passenger, according to the report.
According to reports, the jet came down close to Kuzhenkino, a village located around halfway between Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Unofficial confirmation exists for one allegation that claimed the body of Prigozhin, 62, had been discovered and identified.
The government-run news service in Russia, Interfax, reported that all 10 remains had been found.
According to Grey Zone, there were two explosions and two vapour trails reported and observed by locals prior to the accident.
According to the Tass news agency, the plane started fire as soon as it touched down.
Less than 30 minutes had passed since the plane took to the air, it was added.
Emergency personnel are searching the scene as part of an investigation into the collision.
At the same moment, Grey Zone announced that Prigozhin’s second private plane had made a successful landing in the Moscow area.
Who was Yevgeny Prigozhin?
On September 14, 2022, a few days after Russian troops were forced to withdraw from Kharkiv by a Ukrainian counter-offensive, a video of a man talking to inmates at a Russian prison emerged on the Internet. “I am a representative of a private military company. You have probably heard of it. It’s called PMC Wagner,” said the tall man with a shaved head to a group of prisoners and guards who were standing around him in a semicircle. The video shot with a low-quality mobile camera, was published by the team of Alexei Navalny, a jailed opposition leader. The man in the video was Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian tycoon with close ties with the Kremlin. His mission: recruit prisoners for Wagner to fight in Ukraine.
How the plane was crashed?
A plane carrying three crew members and seven passengers that was en route from Moscow to St. Petersburg went down almost 300 kilometers (185 miles) north of the capital, according to officials cited by Russia’s state news agency Tass.
A BBC reports cites the executive jet showed no signs of trouble until a sudden drop in its final 30 seconds of received altitude, flight tracking data shows .
Ian Petchenik, who works for flightracker Flightradar24, told the Reuters news agency that the Embraer Legacy 600 jet made a “sudden downward vertical” at 15:19 GMT.
Then within about 30 seconds the aircraft plummeted more than 8,000 feet from its cruising altitude of 28,000 feet.
“Whatever happened, happened quickly,” Petchenik said, before adding prior to the drop there was no indication anything was wrong with the aircraft.
The crash immediately raised suspicions since the fate of the founder of the Wagner private military company has been the subject of intense speculation ever since he mounted the mutiny.
At the time, President Vladimir Putin denounced the rebellion as “treason” and a “stab in the back” and vowed to avenge it. But the charges against Prigozhin were soon dropped. The Wagner chief, whose troops were some of the best fighting forces for Russia in Ukraine, was allowed to retreat to Belarus, while reportedly popping up in Russia from time to time.