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Prigozhin’s plane goes down Mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin listed as passenger in fatal jet crash two months after mutiny

  • Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin was on the passenger list of a plane that crashed in the Tver region on Wednesday, says Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency.
  • At least 10 people on board the plane were reportedly killed.
  • According to the pro-Kremlin Telegram channel VChK-OGPU, both Prigozhin and his right-hand man, Wagner Group’s first commander Dmitry Utkin (callsign “Wagner”), died in the crash. This has yet to be officially confirmed.
  • Grey Zone, another Telegram channel with close links to Wagner Group, reported that Russian air defense forces downed Prigozhin’s plane, but this has not officially been confirmed either.
  • Today marks exactly two months since Yevgeny Prigozhin led Wagner Group forces in an armed rebellion against Russia’s military leadership. The mercenary leader announced his “march of justice” on the evening of June 23.

And with that, we’re bringing our live coverage of Wednesday’s plane crash to an end. Thanks for following along with us, and stay tuned in the coming days as we continue to dig into what happened in the Tver region and what it means for Russia’s future. In the meantime, we’ll leave you with some of our more in-depth reporting on Yevgeny Prigozhin and the unprecedented challenge to Putin’s authority he mounted back in June:

What we know as of 12:40 a.m. Moscow time

  • A private plane crashed in Russia’s Tver region.
  • According to Federal Air Transport Agency, the aircraft contained 10 people: seven passengers and three crew members. A list of passengers published by the agency includes Yevgeny Prigozhin and Dmitry Utkin (Wagner Group’s first commander).
  • First responders have finished their search of the crash site, having found remains from all 10 passengers.
  • Grey Zone, a Telegram channel affiliated with Wagner Group, reported that Prigozhin and Utkin are dead. The pro-Kremlin TV channel Tsargrad also reported Prigozhin’s death. Russian officials, however, have not confirmed these reports.
  • The Russian Investigative Committee has opened a criminal case over the possible violation of traffic and air safety regulations.
  • A law enforcement source said investigators are looking into all possible explanations, “including pilot error, technical issues, and external influence.”
  • Vladimir Putin has not commented on the plane crash or Prigozhin’s possible death.

Razgruzka Vagnera, a Wagner Group-affiliated Telegram channel, has called on the media and “friendly [Telegram] channels” not to share “unverified information and messages regarding Wagner Group’s council of commanders and the fate of Yevgeny Prigozhin.”

Earlier, the Wagner-linked channel Grey Zone reported Prigozhin’s death.

People have begun leaving flowers outside a cafe on St. Petersburg’s University Embankment that has links to Yevgeny Prigozhin.

A Kremlin press pool reporter says Vladimir Putin has already returned to Moscow from Kursk, where he attended a concert.

PMC Wagner Center in St. Petersburg.

Interfax: Remains of all 10 people on board downed flight found at crash site

The news agency reports that emergency services has completed the search operation.

Telegram channel Grey Zone, which is associated with Wagner Group, writes that Dmitry Utkin “has died as a result of the actions of traitors to Russia.”

Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency published the list of passengers who were onboard the plane that crashed. It includes both Yevgeny Prigozhin and Dmitry Utkin, Wagner Group’s first commander and namesake.

Telegram channel VChK-OGPU, which is related to the security services, writes, “At 9:30 p.m., the bodies of all 10 people on board Prigozhin’s plane were found. The main official version is ‘an explosion in the sky.’ Representatives of a military unit which includes air defense went to the crash site.”

The monitoring group Belaruski Hayun is reporting that Tsel, the village in Belarus’s Asipovichy District where Wagner mercenaries set up a training camp following Yevgeny Prigozhin’s June rebellion, is currently experiencing mobile Internet outages.

Journalist Andrei Zakharov, citing а source, writes that Prigozhin’s death has begun to be reported “inside Prigozhin’s organizations.”

Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to Zelensky: A new phase in Russia’s domestic policy has begun

Adviser to President of Ukraine Mykhailo Podolyak spoke to Meduza about the crash that has reportedly killed Yevgeny Prigozhin:

The Federal Air Transport Agency’s rapid confirmation of Prigozhin’s death is extremely surprising. Usually, after a plane crash, it takes a certain amount of time to confirm who exactly was on board. So it’s one of two things: either they definitely know and are deliberately reporting that disloyalty means death; or it’s a shocked reaction and they’re violating internal protocols as a result.

Nevertheless, if the plane crash has happened, then it certainly confirms that a new stage of Russian domestic policy has begun. A Time of Troubles, with many deaths, is beginning. There are several reasons for the incident with Prigozhin and the subsequent crack-down.

First of all, the June uprising scared Putin too much. Second, the rebellion severely damaged Putin’s reputation and the reputation of the security that supposedly kept the situation totally under control. Third, the moment when Prigozhin stopped 200 kilometers (125 miles) outside of Moscow and then unexpectedly turned around, he voluntarily signed his own death sentence.

Putin forgives no one for the sticky feeling of his own fear. It’s impossible. Such a demonstrative removal [of Prigozhin] is a direct signal to elites that brutal murders of “their own” are beginning in Russia. All because of the sweeping nervousness, distrust, and suspicion that have captured Putin. I think this is also a direct signal to Western elites that Putin can be badly frightened. But he can’t forgive “loss of face,” insults in the form of support for Ukraine, ICC orders, and so on. And therefore a war that ends incorrectly, with compromise and the attendant Minsk accords, is a big problem. With extreme consequences. Putin will take revenge. In hybrid fashion.

Finally, this is a signal to the Russian army that there will be no “heroes,” that any disloyalty will be punishable by death, and that only “amusing heroes” are possible. The army’s main tasks are to kill, to die, and to not frighten Putin.

The Wagner Group-linked Telegram channel Grey Zone has reported that Yevgeny Prigozhin is dead.

“Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Wagner Group, a Hero of Russia, and a true patriot of his Motherland, was killed as a result of the actions of traitors to Russia,” the channel said. “But even in Hell, he’ll be the best! Glory to Russia!”

Russian journalist and celebrity Ksenia Sobchak said on Telegram that she spoke to Prigozhin’s press secretary, who denied having any information about the crash and said she has not tried to call Prigozhin since learning about the incident.

In a later update, Sobchak reported that according to her sources, Prigozhin was indeed on the plane that crashed.

Telegram channel Shot has published photos from the site of the crash. They say that some parts of the jet fell several kilometers from the fuselage.

TASS says, citing the unified emergency dispatch service of the Bologovo district, that rescuers have pulled the bodies of seven people from the wreckage of the plane.

According to Rosaviatsia, there were seven passengers and three crew members on board.

RIA Novosti previously reported that eight bodies had been found.

Russian state broadcaster RBC says that the investigation into the crash is looking into all possibilities including “external influence.”

“We’re considering all versions of events, including pilot error, technical issues, and external influence,” a source in law enforcement told RBC.

What Russia’s public figures are saying

Popular political scientist Ekaterina Shulman:

[If someone wanted to] disappear forever, taking one of their many backup passports with you, a burnt-out airplane is a suitable pretext. A raven won’t gather your bones, the ends are turned to ashes, the trail is cold. Quel roman que ma vie!

Putin critic and former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky:

Prigozhin is the second-last person I would ever mourn. He even put a price on my head — but life, it seems, took a different turn. But it looks like what we have here is the latest extrajudicial killing. If Russia was a normal state, then his mutiny would have led to a trial, or perhaps even an amnesty. Whatever we may think of Prigozhin, it is unconscionable to kill someone without a trial, especially when he was not in hiding. But in the world where Putin operates — that of gangsters — that’s the only way things can be done. After all, who knows what he might have said in court?

RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan:

One of the theories being discussed is that this incident was staged.

But personally, I’m inclined to go with the more obvious explanation.

Collaborationist official in the annexed Zaporizhzhia region Vladimir Rogov:

I just spoke with some distinguished “musicians” [Wagner fighters].

They confirmed the deaths of Yevgeny Prigozhin and Dmitry Utkin.

May the peace of God be with the newly departed servants of God, Yevgeny and Dmitry.

Baza writes that the pilots of the downed plane did not report any emergency situations to dispatchers.

While the media scrambles to learn the details of the Tver plane crash, Vladimir Putin is presenting the Hero of Russia award to soldiers on live television, journalist Farida Rustamova noted. Last June, the Russian president gave the same award to Yevgeny Prigzohin.

Russia’s Investigative Committee has opened a criminal investigation into the plane crash in the Tver region. The committee is reportedly investigating violations of traffic safety rules and operation of air transport.

Fontanka says Yevgeny Prigozhin was on board the plane that crashed.

According a source, they say, other Wagner Group commanders were also on board the plane.

Prigozhin flew from Africa to Russia today and was accompanied by Wagner Group’s entire command staff, according to investigative journalist Andrey Zakharov.

A second Embraer 600 business jet, which is also linked to Prigozhin, landed at Ostafyevo airport, Fontanka writes.

“The second Embraer 600 business jet with tail number RA-02748, which is also associated with the fleet of businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, landed at Ostafyevo airport.

According to Flightradar24, on the afternoon of August 23, he flew from Moscow to St. Petersburg, then returned back, making a small angle.

At the moment, the service has a note that a flight from Moscow to Baku is scheduled on Thursday.

Earlier, an Embraer Legacy 600 business jet with tail number RA-02795 crashed in the Tver region, with Yevgeny Prigozhin on the passenger list. Whether the businessman was actually on board is still unknown.”

Eight bodies were found at the crash site of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s private plane, which crashed in Russia’s Tver region, reports RIA Novosti, citing emergency services.

Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations intially reported that 10 people were aboard the plane, all of whom were killed.

Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency reported Wednesday that Yevgeny Prigozhin was listed among the passengers on a plane that crashed while en route from Moscow to St. Petersburg.

Reports of a plane crash near the village of Kuzhenkino in Russia’s Tver region first appeared on Russian Telegram channels. The Russian Emergency Services Ministry later confirmed that a private plane had crashed in the Tver region, killing 10 people on board, including three crew members.

Telegram channels linked to the Wagner Group claim that both Prigozhin and the mercenary outfit’s first commander, Dmitry Utkin (callsign “Wagner”), died in the crash. However, these reports have yet to be confirmed.

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