Yevgeny Prigozhin in fatal plane crash, Russian officials say

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An plane stated to be carrying infamous warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin, whose Wagner group launched a failed mutiny in June, has crashed on a flight from Moscow to St Petersburg, based on Russian officials.

All 10 individuals on the plane, together with three crew members, died in the crash, Russia’s emergency ministry stated, based on state newswire RIA Novosti. Russian officials stated {that a} man with Prigozhin’s identify was among the many passengers, with out elaborating additional.

If confirmed, Prigozhin’s loss of life would mark a spectacular finish to the warlord’s meteoric profession practically a yr and a half into president Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, two months after he led his paramilitary drive on a historic, abortive mutiny march on Moscow.

A publish by Grey Zone, a Wagner-connected social media channel, claimed that Russian anti-aircraft defences had shot down the plane in the Tver area close to the village of Kuzhenkino.

It stated that residents heard “two bursts of characteristic air defence fire” earlier than the autumn of the plane, “and this is confirmed by inversion traces in the sky in one of the videos”, it stated, including that the knowledge was preliminary.

Mash, a information outlet on social media app Telegram, stated locals had heard two loud bangs earlier than the crash.

A former Kremlin caterer generally known as “Putin’s chef”, Prigozhin emerged as one of the crucial necessary leaders of Russia’s warfare effort earlier than souring on the navy’s management a lot that he launched a coup towards them in late June.

Although Wagner’s males successfully seized management of two main cities in southern Russia, killing at the very least 13 troopers as they downed two helicopters and a plane on their march to Moscow, Putin had appeared to forgive them.

Under an settlement with the Kremlin, Wagner decamped for exile in neighbouring Belarus, whose chief Alexander Lukashenko brokered the truce.

Prigozhin stated final month that Wagner’s males would finally redeploy to Africa, the place the group continues to combat as mercenaries in a number of conflicts. He appeared in a video on Monday saying that he was in Africa on a mission to “make Russia even greater on all continents”.

Although Prigozhin appeared to have been reintegrated into the Russian safety institution, American officials had stated they anticipated that he was prone to face retribution.

An image on Twitter purporting to indicate the crash scene © @Visegrad 24

“Putin is someone who generally thinks that revenge is a dish best served cold,” William Burns, CIA director, stated whereas talking on the Aspen Security Forum final month. “In my experience Putin is the ultimate apostle of payback so I would be surprised if Prigozhin escapes further retribution for this.”

The plane, an Embraer Legacy, was the identical that Prigozhin had often used to journey round Russia and as far-off as Africa, based on flight monitoring website Flightradar24.

When it final broadcast its place, it was at 28,000ft and shifting at a floor velocity of 513 knots.

The route seems to be the plane’s regular flight path to St Petersburg, a run it final made on July 6.

Video of the crash and its aftermath posted by social media with ties to Russian safety providers confirmed the plane quickly descending from the sky, accompanied by a plume resembling photographs fired from anti-aircraft defences, earlier than crashing to the bottom in a ball of flame.

However, Mash additionally reported that safety providers had been investigating the opportunity of a “terrorist attack on board” as one other potential explanation for the blast.

Additional reporting by Chris Cook in London

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