Wagner’s boss, Yevgeny Prigojine, was announced dead on Wednesday in Russia, in a plane crash, exactly two months after trying to seize power from Vladimir Putin.
The oligarch Evgueni Prigojine, leader of the paramilitary group Wagner, was announced dead at the age of 62 on Wednesday August 23 in a plane crash in Russia. This private plane was carrying ten people and crashed in the Tver region while flying from Moscow to Saint Petersburg.
Telegram channels linked to the Wagner group confirmed his death in the middle of the evening, a few minutes before the Air Transport Agency confirmed the presence of Yevgeny Prigojine on board the plane.
The Saint Petersburg native rose to global prominence in 2022, involving his paramilitary group in the Russian-led war in Ukraine. Mainly recruiting his men from Russian prisons, it was these mercenaries who took the city of Bakhmout, in the east of the country, after intense weeks of fighting.
Evgueni Prigojine has become in a few months an essential piece in support of Vladimir Putin’s army. The two men have met many times over the past decades.
In the 1990s, during one of his first lives, Evgueni Prigojine set up catering businesses in a Russia where the capitalism model was beginning to gain ground.
When Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000, it was one of the catering groups that Yevgueni Prigojine had created in the meantime that was responsible for feeding the Kremlin. Hence the nickname “Putin’s cook” which will stick for many years to Prigojine’s skin.
Open criticism of the Kremlin
For many years Yevgeny Prigozhin has been hanging around in the Moscow business community. But in 2014, far from hot dogs and luxury restaurants, he co-founded the Wagner group, a Russian company specializing in mercenarism, which will be financed by Moscow.
This squad allowed him to enrich himself, recalled in November 2022 our colleagues from the Quebec newspaper The duty: Syrian oil, Central African diamonds, everything is good to inflate the pockets.
But it will also cause him to lose confidence in the Russian executive. Engaged in Africa, the Wagner group is also deployed on the ground of the war in Ukraine. Evgueni Prigojine is gaining influence as the conflict gets bogged down. Over the months, the mercenary criticizes more and more openly the choices of Vladimir Putin and his Minister of Defense, Sergei Shoigu.
On June 24, 2023, he entered Russia with his troops with the aim of overthrowing the military command, saying he was “ready to die” with his 25,000 men to “liberate the Russian people”. For 24 hours, the Kremlin trembles before an unprecedented coup against Russian power.
The rebellion was finally aborted, “to prevent ‘Russian blood’ from flowing”, explained Evgueni Prigojine.
“A betrayal” in June 2023
“A stab in the back”, will denounce Vladimir Putin, who will criticize “a betrayal caused by the disproportionate ambitions and the personal interests” of the boss of Wagner.
Fierce critic of Russian military strategy in Ukraine, Evgeny Prigojine will escape any legal proceedings, had however promised the Kremlin, a few hours after the opening of an investigation targeting the leader of the mercenaries for “call for mutiny”.
Never convicted for these acts of rebellion in Russia and his war crimes in Ukraine, Yevgeny Prigojine was able to go to Belarus a few weeks after his failed coup.
Discreet since, one of his last appearances dates from this Monday. In a video that appears to have been shot in Africa and posted on Telegram, he claimed that the “paramilitary group Wagner makes Russia even bigger on all continents, and Africa freer”.
Source: BFM TV