Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin is said to have been killed in a plane crash in Russia two months after his mysterious mutiny. Prigozhin's name is on the passenger list, the aviation authority Rozaviatsia said on Wednesday, according to Russian agencies. According to preliminary information, all ten people on board died, the Russian civil defense said.
The Embraer Legacy aircraft was to fly from Moscow to St. Petersburg, where Prigozhin's companies are based. It crashed in the Tver region near Kuschenkino, more than 200 kilometers from Moscow. There were three crew members on board.
Prigozhin Canal: Aimed kill
After the crash, the Prigozhin Internet medium spread the version of a targeted shooting down. The machine was shot down by anti-aircraft defenses over the Tver region, according to the Telegram channel Gray Zone. Priogoshin usually used it to distribute his videos. The claim of a shooting was not verifiable.
Gray Zone wrote that there were two planes from Wagner's private army in the air. The second turned around on the flight to St. Petersburg and landed at Ostafyevo Airport south of Moscow. Gray Zone questioned the authorities' version that Prigozhin was on the passenger list of the first plane and was killed. "Where Yevgeny Prigozhin was in the end, there is no precise information at the moment," it said.
Exactly two months ago to the day, Prigozhin (62) mutinied with his private army Wagner against the Russian leadership, although the background to these events is still unclear to this day. During the advance on Moscow, the mutineers demanded the replacement of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of Staff Sergei Gerasimov. But Prigozhin also attacked President Vladimir Putin himself. The Kremlin chief called Prigozhin a traitor. The mutiny ended with the Wagner boss and thousands of his gunmen being able to go to Belarus.
Prisoners recruited for war service
The group of mercenaries he had built up first carried out unofficial special assignments for Russia in Syria and later also in several African countries. In the war of aggression against Ukraine, Prigozhin recruited prisoners from Russian prisons. The force suffered heavy losses in the fighting for the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. Priogoshin accused the regular military leadership of incompetence and corruption.
Priogschin was in prison himself and later made a career as purveyor to the Kremlin, hence his nickname "Putin's cook". He is also said to have been the businessman behind the troll factories in St. Petersburg, which tried to influence western countries via social media.