The Embraer private plane where the head of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, was traveling, crashed on Wednesday afternoon in central Russia, an accident in which its ten occupants died.
As reported by the Russian civil aviation agency, Rosaviatsia, three crew members and seven passengers were traveling on the Embraer-135, including Prigozhin and his “right hand”, Dmitri Utkinformer Russian military intelligence (GRU) officer.
The other five passengers would also be members of the mercenary group, which recently resumed its operations on the African continent. According to Rosaviatsia, they were identified as Valeriy Chekalov, Sergey Propustin, Evgeniy Makaryan, Aleksandr Totmin, and Nikolay Matuseev. According to local reports, Chekalov was Prigozhin’s head of security.
In addition, on the plane were Commander Aleksei Levshin, Co-pilot Rustam Karimov and Stewardess Kristina Raspopova.
The air disaster occurred in the central Tver region when the plane that had taken off from Moscow was heading to St. Petersburg.
For now, the causes of the accident are unknownalthough some media and Telegram channels are considering various versions, from a bomb attack ordered by the Kremlin to a missile from the Russian anti-aircraft defense or an attack by enemy drones.
Prigozhin, who led a failed armed rebellion against the Kremlin exactly two months ago, last appeared on Monday when he suggested in a video that he had returned to Africa to make Russia “even bigger on all continents.”
The emergency services informed the official agency RIA Novosti that the bodies of the ten occupants who were traveling on the plane, three crew members and seven passengers, have been found in the area of the accident.
According to the local press, the bodies are completely charred, so it will probably be necessary to carry out a DNA test to confirm your identity.
The portal Asset ensures that one of the passengers was decapitated in the accident occurred not far from the town of Kuzhenkino, which is located about 350 kilometers from Moscow.
Rosaviatsia stressed that the plane had all the permits in order and was carrying out its flight after receiving the official authorization for the use of airspace in due course.
By order of the Kremlin or Ukraine
Different versions of what happened are being debated on Russian social networks. Channels close to Wagner say that Prigozhin’s plane could have been shot down by Russian anti-aircraft defense.
Prigozhin would have died “as a result of the actions of traitors to Russia”points out the Telegram channel Gray Zone, in a clear allusion to the Russian secret services.
The portals Mash and Asset They point out that the device could have been the victim of a bomb attack, while others that it was shot down by an enemy drone.
according to the newspaper RBCthe authorities are studying three versions: a piloting failure, a technical problem or an external intervention.
Different eyewitnesses claim to have heard two explosions and that the Embraer exploded in midair.
According to the media, the pilots of the private plane never gave the alarm signal, so They argue that its occupants probably died in mid-flight.
The Investigative Committee of Russia has opened a criminal case on violation of safety rules when operating an air transport device.
“When Prigozhin stopped 200 kilometers from Moscow and suddenly reversed, he quickly and voluntarily signed his death sentence,” Mikhailo Podoliak, an adviser to the Ukrainian Presidency, told the online daily. meduza.
Two months since the rebellion against the Kremlin
This incident took place exactly two months after Prigozhin revolted against the Kremlin (June 23-24), a rebellion in which he came to take one of the most important cities in southern Russia, Rostov-on-Don, for a few hours.
After the mediation of the Belarusian president, Alexandr Lukashenko, Prigozhin agreed to withdraw his mercenaries after 24 hours of mutiny and move his base to the territory of that former Soviet republic.
After accusing him of treason, Putin received him in the Kremlinafter which Prigozhin announced that he would no longer fight in the Ukraine and resumed his Wagner operations in Africa.
Coinciding with the incident, Putin participated on Wednesday in the Kursk region, bordering Ukraine, in an official ceremony on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Kursk, one of the most important of World War II.
The accident also took place on the same day that official media confirmed the dismissal as head of the Aerospace Forces of Sergei Surovikin, a general known for his close ties with Prigozhin and who disappeared from the public eye as soon as Wagner’s armed uprising was put down.
(With information from EFE)
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner Group, died in a plane crash
make it look like an accident
The moment the plane fell
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Prigozhin’s last video: he was in Africa recruiting mercenaries