Who is Dmitry Utkin and who else was reportedly on the plane?

Image supply, Grey Zone/Telegram

Image caption,

Dmitry Utkin is one among the figures most related to the Wagner Group

Nine different individuals had been on the aircraft alongside Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin when it crashed, based on flight particulars launched by the Russian aviation authorities.

They embody Dmitry Utkin, who is believed to have given the mercenary group its identify.

Russia additionally says Valeriy Chekalov, who is believed to have been essential to the group’s funds, was on board.

Three crew members had been on the flight alongside the Wagner members.

Here’s what we find out about them.

Dmitry Utkin

The historical past of the Wagner Group is murky however observe the path again far sufficient and Dmitry Utkin’s identify will inevitably crop up.

The 53-year-old veteran of Russia’s two wars in Chechnya in 1994-2000 is believed to have been concerned in the non-public military since its early days in 2014.

The group itself is named after his name signal Wagner. It is seemingly a reference to composer Richard Wagner, who was Adolf Hitler’s favorite composer.

In current years, Utkin is reported to have been Prigozhin’s right-hand man, chargeable for total command and fight coaching.

More on Prigozhin’s reported demise

There are few images Utkin however a kind of in circulation is a selfie which reveals neo-Nazi tattoos on his physique.

According to Utkin’s on-line CV, which seems to be from round 2013 and was unearthed by the investigative website Bellingcat, he served in the GRU – Russia’s army intelligence division – from 1988 to 2008. It says his involvement in fight operations led to authorities awards, and lists weapons expertise amongst his skilled qualities.

Utkin turned a gun for rent after leaving army intelligence and gained affect in Wagner when the group fought on the facet of pro-Russia separatists in japanese Ukraine in 2014.

He is additionally thought to have been concerned in the group’s operations in Syria and Africa. A BBC investigation in 2021 linked him to paperwork which uncovered Wagner’s involvement in the Libyan civil battle.

An image considered taken in 2016 exhibits Utkin alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin at a Kremlin reception, at a time when the Russian authorities was denying hyperlinks to Wagner.

Mr Putin has since mentioned the Russian authorities funded the group to the tune of billions of {dollars}.

Video caption,

Watch: Video exhibits aircraft crash in in the Tver area

Valeriy Chekalov

Chekalov is believed to be a detailed Prigozhin affiliate with enterprise hyperlinks to the Wagner chief stretching again to the 2000s.

The 47-year-old seems to have been concerned in working Prigozhin’s non-military enterprise pursuits, which Western governments say are used to finance the mercenary group.

Chekalov was linked with Evro Polis, an organization related to Prigozhin, which signed contracts for the manufacturing of fuel and oil in Syria in 2017.

According to the US Treasury, the firm was contracted by President Bashar al-Assad’s authorities “to protect Syrian oil fields in exchange for a 25% share in oil and gas production from the fields”.

The funds raised from the deal had been used to pay Wagner fighters and procure arms, the US Treasury mentioned.

Chekalov is additionally believed to have been answerable for Wagner’s enterprise initiatives throughout Africa.

He had been focused by US and Ukrainian sanctions over his hyperlinks with Prigozhin, and Evro Polis has additionally been sanctioned by quite a lot of governments, together with the UK.

Yevgeny Makaryan, Sergey Propustin, Alexander Totmin and Nikolay Matuseev

The different 5 males listed as passengers all seem like Wagner fighters.

Unlike Utkin and Chekalov, they don’t seem on worldwide sanctions lists and so haven’t been deemed to be senior figures by Western governments.

Given that we all know Prigozhin was surrounded by shut safety – and much more so after his rift with Vladimir Putin deepened – they could have been travelling as bodyguards.

The names of three of the males seem in a database of alleged Wagner fighters which has been compiled by pro-Ukrainian activists: Yevgeny Makaryan, Sergey Propustin and Alexander Totmin.

Another man recognized by the Russian authorities as Nikolay Matuseev doesn’t seem in the database.

One Russian Telegram channel says it might have been Nikolay Matusevich, a member of Wagner’s assault unit.

Pilot Alexei Levshin, co-pilot Rustam Karimov and crew Kristina Raspopova

The remaining three individuals recognized as being amongst the useless by Russian authorities are the pilot Alexei Levshin, co-pilot Rustam Karimov and Kristina Raspopova, a flight attendant and the solely lady on board.

Very little confirmed data is obtainable on the trio and it is unclear in the event that they had been straight employed by Prigozhin, by an organization he owned, or by one other agency solely.

Prigozhin is identified to have often travelled by non-public jet, and the plane concerned in the crash, a Brazilian-made Embraer Legacy 600, is identified to have been utilized by him beforehand.

The aircraft was put underneath US sanctions in 2019 – when it was listed underneath a unique registration – due to its hyperlinks to Prigozhin through an organization, Reuters reported.

The BBC has not independently verified particulars about the flight crew however stories citing interviews with their relations are circulating in Russian on-line media.

Raspopova, 39, is mentioned to have spoken to her household and posted images on social media shortly earlier than the flight took off.

Karimov, 29, had solely labored for the firm for 3 months, based on a Russian media interview along with his father, and reportedly celebrated his fourth marriage ceremony anniversary earlier this month.

Levshin, 51, was married with two youngsters and had labored in aviation his complete grownup life, Russian shops reported quoting his household.

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