Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin
August 24, 2023 - Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin was on the passenger list of a jet that crashed flying from Moscow to St Petersburg, killing all ten people on board, according to Russian officials.
On June 23-24, Prigozhin and his Wagner Group mercenaries led a mutiny that posed the biggest threat to President Vladimir Putin’s almost quarter-century rule.
Wagner’s men seized control of two cities in southern Russia, killing at least 13 soldiers and downing two helicopters and a plane. Putin agreed to an eleventh-hour deal to avoid further bloodshed, brokered by Belarus’ leader Alexander Lukashenko.
At the time, observers speculated that Prigozhin was a “dead man walking.”
The 62-year-old mercenary chief used two aircraft for travel -- one as a decoy, just in case. Yesterday’s crash occurred on the two-month anniversary of Prigozhin’s attempted coup, which Putin denounced as “treason.”
A post by a Wagner-connected social media channel, Grey Zone, claimed that Russian anti-aircraft defences had shot down the Embraer Legacy private jet. It said residents heard “two bursts of characteristic air defence fire” before the plane began to fall.
If confirmed, the death of Prigozhin -- also known as “Putin’s chef” for his Kremlin catering -- would mark a dramatic end to the warlord’s career.
- Mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin is presumed dead in a plane crash outside Moscow (Associated Press)
- Russian mercenary Yevgeny Prigozhin's plane appeared fine on radar until last 30 seconds (Bloomberg)
- What’s ahead for the Wagner Group in Africa and the Middle East? (Brookings)
- Russian mercenary Yevgeny Prigozhin's plane appeared fine on radar until last 30 seconds (Reuters)