Several official Russian sources claim that the plane carrying Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the Wagner mercenary group, crashed in western Russia on Wednesday.
According to state news agency TASS, Prigozhin was on the plane along with nine other passengers. Sources from the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency stated that the aircraft, an Embraer jet, reportedly crashed in the Tver region. The name of the mercenary group leader, who clashed with the Russian government and carried out a show of armed force against Moscow, is on the passenger list.
The Russian Federal Air Transport Agency has announced that an Investigation has been launched to determine the “Cause” of the Aircraft Crash in the Tver Region which Killed all 10 Passengers onboard including Yevgeny Prigozhin. pic.twitter.com/1kguZWO4lr
— OSINTdefender (@sentdefender) August 23, 2023
According to TASS, Russian authorities are conducting an investigation into what happened. OSINT sources published a video on X, allegedly depicting the site of the collision involving the Embraer aircraft that was carrying the leader of the mercenaries. The governor of the Tver region, Igor Rudenya, said he has taken over the management of the accident together with state authorities.
Prigozhin, banished to Belarus after marching a group of mercenaries toward Moscow and taking several Russian cities, made his last appearance just two days ago. In a video posted through his Telegram channel, Prigozhin claimed to be in Mali confronting Islamic terrorists.
— VOZ (@VozMediaUSA) August 23, 2023
A Telegram channel closely associated with the Wagner mercenary group claims that the anti-aircraft batteries of the Russian Armed Forces shot down Prigozhin's plane. Given the hostility between Prigozhin and the Russian government, these sources consider this possibility significant.
The Wagner group has been in Mali since the military staged the second coup in less than a year. According to OSINT sources, other members of the leadership of the Wagner mercenary group were also traveling on the plane, a total of seven, in addition to the three crew members of the aircraft. Among them would be Dimitri Utkin, Prigozhin's right-hand man and also the founder of the Wagner mercenary group.
An hour after knowledge of the event was released, White House sources cited by BBC assured that President Biden was being informed about the situation. Several Telegram channels close to the Wagner group are spreading scathing messages against the Kremlin. According to OSINT sources, Prigozhin had distributed to his close circle a series of instructions on how to act after his death in case he was murdered.
Doubts about the veracity of Prigozhin's death remain. According to air-tracking website FlighRadar, a second private plane owned by Prigozhin landed in Moscow a few minutes after the first plane crash was announced.