Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin was among passengers on a private plane which crashed in the Tver Oblast, northwest of Moscow, on Wednesday, according to the Russian TASS news agency.
All ten people on board the aircraft died in the crash, according to the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry.
Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency said that Prigozhin was on board the aircraft.
Russian journalist Andrey Zakharov says that Prigozhin was flying to Russia from Africa today, with him was the entire command staff of Wagner PMC.
BREAKING — A Russian jet frequently used by Prigozhin crashed, per pro-Wagner telegram accounts.
Multiple Russian media reports say all 10 people on board died.
The crashed jet belonged to Prigozhin, but he usually flew on another plane – source tells Readovka
The plane… pic.twitter.com/5ZX5K7S74U
— Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) August 23, 2023
WARNING! Very Graphic video below of bodies found during crash.
Wikipedia now states that Prigozhin is dead, however no official statement has been released.
Former Putin advisor Sergei Markov released a statement: “The murder of Prigozhin is the main achievement of Ukraine and all enemies of Russia will rejoice”
In June, Prigozhin was exiled from Russia to Belarus as part of a deal reached after a mutiny by the Wagner Group against the Russian military during which members of the militia briefly captured the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don and then marched towards Moscow.
Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin was listed as among the passengers on a plane that crashed Wednesday in Russia, according to Russian media outlets.
Ten people on board the plane were reportedly killed. State-run media service TASS reported the plane crashed in the Tver region, about 100 miles northwest of Moscow.
Prigozhin was listed among the passengers, according to the Federal Air Transport Agency, which confirmed the details to TASS.
Russian emergency authorities are investigating the crash, TASS reported.
The plane was a business jet on its way from Moscow to St. Petersburg, according to the news service.
Prigozhin had just been seen a video posted on his Telegram channel earlier this week. In the video, the mercenary chief appeared to be in Africa to discuss the operations of his private military company on the continent.
The news comes amid Prigozhin’s increasingly strained relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.Prigozhin was exiled to Belarus in June following a short-lived mutiny against the Kremlin’s military leaders.
The Wagner boss had marched on Moscow with thousands of mercenary fighters behind his back after decrying what he called widespread corruption among the Russian elite and failures on the part of the Russian Defense Ministry in executing the war in Ukraine.
In Ukraine, the Wagner Group lost up to 20,000 soldiers in the months long siege of Bakhmut alone, by Prigozhin’s claims.
Prigozhin’s march was halted just over 100 miles from Moscow after Belarusian President Aleksander Lukashenko brokered a deal for terrorism charges to be dropped against Prigozhin, who agreed to be exiled in Belarus.
But Prigozhin has been seen in Russia since the apparent exile, even meeting with Putin in July. In public addresses, Putin has slammed the “organizers” of the rebellion without naming Prigozhin and allowed Wagner fighters to escape charges.
Still, the Russian president has moved to strip Wagner Group of heavy weapons. Putin also implied that Prigozhin’s Concord catering company would be investigated for charging the government while being funded by the Kremlin.
Both President Biden and CIA chief Bill Burns have suggested that Prigozhin should be wary of assassination attempts following the mutiny.
“If I were he, I’d be careful what I ate; I’d keep my eye on my menu,” Biden quipped at a news conference in Helsinki in July.
Burns had said that Putin was trying to “buy time” as he decides how to respond to the Wagner chief’s provocation.
“Putin is someone who generally thinks that revenge is a dish best-served cold,” Burns said last month at a security conference. “In my experience, Putin is the ultimate apostle of payback so I would be surprised if Prigozhin escapes further retribution for this.”
Prigozhin, who founded Wagner Group in 2014, has a long history with Putin. He is known as “Putin’s chef,” for his catering contracts at the Kremlin, and he also founded the infamous Internet Research Agency, which meddled in the 2016 U.S. elections.