Russian authorities have officially confirmed the death of Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader and founder of the private mercenary group Wagner. The head of the investigative committee analyzing the crash site of the Embraer aircraft reportedly carrying Prigozhin issued a statement confirming that the DNA analyzed matches the original passenger list.
The Russian government thus verifies that Prigozhin was indeed in the crashed plane, as has been reported since Wednesday when the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency announced that the Embraer had crashed in the Tver region of western Russia.
Russia's investigative committee states that all 10 bodies from the crash site (of Prigozhin's plane) have been identified via DNA tests, and "they match the passenger list". I.e. they declare Prigozhin officially dead. pic.twitter.com/rQlwpv1caj
— Christo Grozev (@christogrozev) August 27, 2023
Along with Prigozhin, his right-hand man Dmitri Utkin, who also co-founded the Wagner group, has also been confirmed dead. In addition to the two of them, eight others were on the plane, crew members included.
Conflict with Moscow
Yevgeny Prigozhin led a show of force against the Russian government and mobilized his troops towards the Kremlin as his final act amidst a growing tension during the war in Ukraine. Throughout the war, the mercenary leader made repeated publicly demands for more support from the Russian Defense Ministry and General Staff.
After agreeing to stop his mercenary coup just a few miles from Moscow, Prigozhin was exiled to Belarus and part of Wagner's troops were absorbed into the Russian Armed Forces along with their resources and equipment. This week, President Vladimir Putin signed an order to make the takeover official.
— VOZ (@VozMediaUSA) August 23, 2023
Prigozhin had enjoyed until Wednesday a certain freedom of movement. Two days before the fatal plane crash, the Wagner boss shared a video on Telegram from Mali, protecting and promoting Wagner's image in Africa.
Causes of the accident
Since his death, a slew of theories have spread through Telegram channels close to the mercenary group suggesting that Prigozhin's Embraer did not crash accidentally, but was somehow sabotaged or shot down by the Russian military. Russian authorities have yet to offer any official account that could explain the plane crash.