Moscow– Russia’s Investigative Committee said on Sunday it had confirmed the death of Yevgeny Prigorzhin, the founder and head of Wagner’s mercenary group, in a plane crash. Wagner led a brief armed rebellion against Russian troops.
Commission spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko said in a statement that forensic and genetic tests identified all 10 bodies found at the crash site on Wednesday and the results “consistent with the aircraft manifest.” The statement did not provide any details on what could have led to the crash.
Russia’s civil aviation agency said earlier this week that Prigozhin, 62, and some of his top aides were on the list of passengers and crew on board the plane. All seven passengers and three crew members were killed when the plane crashed mid-air between Moscow and Prigozhin’s hometown of St. Petersburg.
Prigozhin staged a one-day mutiny against the Russian army two months ago, leading his mercenaries from Ukraine to Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the act as “treason” and vowed to punish those involved.
Instead, the Kremlin quickly struck a deal with Prigozhin to end the armed insurgency, saying he would be allowed to walk free without facing charges and resettled in Belarus. However, questions remain over whether Prigorzhin will ultimately be punished for the short-lived uprising, which has posed the biggest challenge to Putin’s authority in 23 years of rule.
A U.S. Intelligence Preliminary Assessment It was concluded that the deliberate explosion caused the plane to go down. As suspicions mount that the Russian president was behind the assassination, the Kremlin has dismissed it as “a complete lie”.
A Western official describing the initial assessment said it showed Prigozhin ‘likely’ to be targeted The explosion would be in line with Putin’s “long history of trying to silence critics”.
Dmitry Utkin, Prigozhin’s number two, and Valery Chkalov, Wagner’s logistical planner, were also killed in the crash. It has long been believed that Utkin founded Wagner and baptized the group under his alias.
Until recently, Wagner played a major role in Russia’s military campaign against Ukraine and has been involved in military operations in many African and Middle Eastern countries, but his fate remains uncertain.
After the mutiny, the Kremlin said Prigorzhin would be exiled to Belarus and his fighters had three options: follow him there, retire or join the Russian regular army, and return to Ukraine, where Wagnerian mercenaries fought alongside Russian troops .
Thousands of Wagnerian mercenaries chose to transfer to Belarus, and a camp was established for them southeast of the capital Minsk.
The video in the player above is from a previous report.