Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner mercenary group, known for its involvement in a failed coup attempt against Russian President Vladimir Putin, has reportedly met his end in a tragic plane crash.
According to Reuters, citing Tass news agency, Prigozhin was among the passengers listed on the ill-fated flight, as confirmed by the Russian Civil Aviation Authority.
The aircraft, en route from Moscow to St Petersburg, tragically crashed, claiming the lives of all 10 individuals on board, including three crew members, as reported by Russia’s emergency ministry via RIA Novosti, a state newswire.
While Russian officials did acknowledge the presence of an individual by the name of Yevgeny Prigozhin on the passenger roster, they refrained from divulging further details.
There are unverified reports circulating that link the aircraft to Prigozhin himself, the founder of the Wagner private military company.
Nonetheless, Russia’s civilian aviation regulator, Rosaviatsia, verified Prigozhin’s name on the passenger list, although it remains unclear whether he had indeed boarded the flight, as detailed by Reuters.
In response to the tragic incident, Rosaviatsia initiated an investigation into the crash of the Embraer plane, which unfolded in the Tver region. The passenger manifest unequivocally includes the name Yevgeny Prigozhin, as stated by the regulatory body.
Earlier, an affiliated Telegram channel linked to Wagner, called Grey Zone, reported that the plane had been downed by air defenses in the Tver region, situated to the north of Moscow, according to a BBC report.
It is worth noting that Yevgeny Prigozhin’s private military force, Wagner, had previously collaborated with Russia’s regular armed forces in the context of the conflict in Ukraine. Following the abortive coup, the Kremlin’s response was to exile Prigozhin to Belarus.
Additionally, his contingent of fighters faced a choice between retirement, accompanying him to Belarus, or integration into the Russian military.