Prigozhin Presumed Dead After Wagner-Linked Media Confirms He Was on Crashed Jet

It might not have been a sad accident, according to Juri Rescheto, head of the DW Russia office. “He became into a key figure for the Kremlin. He grew to be so influential that he dared to publicly and loudly question the justification for the Ukrainian War, which was very inconvenient.

The founder of the mercenary Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, was aboard a business jet that crashed in Russia on Wednesday, according to media with ties to the Wagner Group. Additionally, Prigozhin was on board, according to Russian aviation authorities.

Three crew members and the other nine passengers on board all perished in the disaster. Following the initial inspections, eight dead were discovered at the accident scene, according to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.

According to the airline, the Embraer 135 (EBM-135BJ) aircraft carried the following passengers: Prigozhin, Yevgeny, according to Russia’s aviation regulator Rosaviatsia.

Rosaviatsia added that the Wagner executive was travelling on the plane with Dmitry Utkin, a Prigozhin acquaintance and a mysterious person who oversaw Wagner’s operations.

Grey Zone, a Telegram channel connected to Wagner, verified Prigozhin’s passing and hailed him as a patriot and a hero. In addition, the article claimed that he had been murdered by an unnamed group of “traitors to Russia.”

“An investigation has been opened into the tonight’s Embraer jet crash in the Tver area. According to the passenger list, Yevgeny Prigozhin’s name and last name are included among them, Rosaviatsia, the Russian civil aviation authority, reported in regards to the crash.

The jet apparently crashed close to the village of Kuzhenkino in Tver, a region more than 100 kilometres north of the Russian capital, while en route from Moscow to St. Petersburg.

In well than 20 years of operation, the Embraer jet type has only recorded one accident, and it wasn’t due to a mechanical issue.

 It might not have been a sad accident, according to Juri Rescheto, head of the DW Russia office. “He became into a key figure for the Kremlin. He grew to be so influential that he dared to publicly and loudly question the justification for the Ukrainian War, which was very inconvenient.

“I can imagine that the Wagner Group will no longer exist as a fighting force,” Rescheto said if Prigozhin’s demise is verified.

Since Prigozhin led his mercenary soldiers on a brief rebellion against Moscow on June 23, many people have wondered where he is.

Just two days ago, a video purporting to be of Prigozhin was posted on Telegram. It seemed to show him in Africa. It would be his debut video since the mutiny that was abandoned.

White House: Prigozhin’s death ‘no surprise’

President Joe Biden addressed the news with reporters as he was leaving a gym while on vacation, and the White House also recognised it.

There isn’t much that happens in Russia that (President) Putin isn’t behind, Biden said, adding, “I don’t know for sure what happened, but I’m not surprised.” However, my knowledge is insufficient to know the solution.

On the social networking site X, formerly known as Twitter, Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak responded to the news, saying it was “obvious” Putin would make a show of Prigozhin.

“Putin is sending a signal to Russia’s elites ahead of the 2024 elections with the demonstrative removal of Prigozhin and the Wagner command two months after the coup attempt,” Podolyak noted.

The death of Prigozhin could not have been an accident, the foreign minister of Poland, Zbigniew Rau, stated on TVP Info. “It so happens that political opponents whom Vladimir Putin considers a threat to his power do not die naturally,” he continued.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas told CNN that if the report is accurate, it “shows Putin will eliminate opponents and that scares anyone who is thinking of expressing an opinion different from his.”

Wagner soldiers participated in the Russian invasion of Ukraine after being crucial to the success of the Bakhmut battle. But tensions between the mercenary army and the Russian government’s regular army grew until Prigozhin made the decision to withdraw his troops from Ukraine and advance on Moscow, capturing the crucial city of Rostov-on-Don in the process.

The 62-year-old had openly attacked Sergei Shoigu, the Russian defence minister, and chief of staff Valery Gerasimov in particular during the months prior. He lamented the shortage of supplies for his troops before claiming that Russian forces had opened fire on mercenaries hired by Wagner.

Following negotiations mediated by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and the agreement that the mercenary leader would travel to Belarus with his forces, the uprising was put a stop. Inconclusive sources, however, stated that he departed Belarus soon after.

After the mercenaries started their march, Russian President Vladimir Putin called Prigozhin’s acts “treason” in a public speech.

Prior to that, Prigozhin had been a crucial ally of Putin and had once catered for him personally. He launched many enterprises, notably the Wagner Group, using his status.

Since Putin first came to power more than 20 years ago, his open challenge to the Kremlin and the Russian president’s reign was one of the largest.

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