At least ten people, including oligarch Yevgeny Prigojine, died on Wednesday, Russian authorities confirmed. An investigation was opened “to establish the causes of the accident”.
Yevgeny Prigojine, the head of the paramilitary group Wagner, was on board the plane that crashed on Wednesday in the Tver region, northwest of Moscow, Russian authorities confirmed in the middle of the evening, after several hours of uncertainty. A crash that left no survivors and in which ten people, including three crew members, died.
• Ten people on board, an open investigation
The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry says the plane crashed near the village of Kujenkino, in the Tver region, northwest of Moscow. The plane was to reach Saint Petersburg, nearly 400 kilometers away.
An investigation has been opened for “violation of air transport safety rules” has been opened. “A team of investigators was sent to the scene (…) to establish the causes of the accident,” the Russian Investigation Committee said in a statement.
According to an emergency services official quoted by the Ria Novosti agency, the bodies of eight people have so far been found at the crash site. The TASS agency mentioned seven recovered bodies.
• Yevgeny Prigojine was well on board
Many gray areas persist on the crash conditions. Regarding the context, Yevgeny Prigojine had been in the sights of Vladimir Putin since his abortive rebellion, launched exactly two months ago, on June 23, 2023.
Videos (the authenticity of which has not yet been confirmed) have been broadcast on several Telegram channels claiming to be linked to Wagner, showing burning debris in a field or a device falling from the sky.
In the evening, the Russian air transport agency confirmed that Yevgeny Prigojine was on board the aircraft. “According to the airline, the following passengers were on board the Embraer – 135 plane,” Rossaviatsia said, citing the name of Wagner’s boss but also that of his right-hand man Dmitri Utkin.
According to her, the flight was taking place “under a duly issued airspace permit”.
• His death confirmed by a Telegram channel close to Wagner
The death of the leader of the Wagner group had been confirmed on Telegram a few minutes earlier by a channel close to the organization of mercenaries, describing Yevgeny Prigojine as a “hero of Russia, a true patriot”. “Even in hell, he will be the best”, writes this source.
In St. Petersburg, where Prigozhin had established the headquarters of his mercenary company, a huge cross was displayed in the middle of the evening on the huge building.
The Telegram channel close to the Wagner group called on Wagner supporters not to participate in “any action” in tribute to Evgueni Prigojine.
• Biden “not surprised”, Putin silent
Even before the Russian air transport agency confirmed the presence of Yevgeni Prigojine on the plane, US President Joe Biden said he was “not surprised” by such an end for the head of Wagner.
“Few things happen in Russia without Putin having something to do with it,” added the American president from the mountains of the West of the United States where he is with his family.
Pointed the finger, the Russian president for his part did not communicate. The Kremlin has also sent no reaction to news agencies based in Moscow.
As news of Prigozhin’s death spread across Russian Telegram channels, Vladimir Putin was in Kursk, in the west of the country, to take part in a ceremony to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the battle that took place in this city in 1943.
Source: BFM TV