Evgueni Prigojine, 62, head of the paramilitary group Wagner, was aboard a private plane that crashed on Wednesday August 23 in the Tver region, 180 kilometers northwest of Moscow, according to Russian aviation agency Rossaviatsia. Many gray areas and questions surround the circumstances and appearance of the accident. Here’s what we know.
What happened ?
The flight, registered RA-02795, departed from Moscow in the direction of St. Petersburg between 4 pm and 5 pm (Paris time). According to Rossaviatsia, the plane belongs to MNT-Aero, a company specializing in commercial aviation.
The jet flew about 180 kilometers before the ADS-B signal (a geo-positioning system used by air traffic control) was released and disappeared without a trace. It was then at an altitude of 8,000 meters, close to its cruising altitude.
About an hour later, pictures posted on social media showed the burning wreckage of the plane, its shape with engines and the last letters of its registration («795») reveal that it is indeed the same jet.
With the help of other videos showing the plane crash, the world It was possible to find the crash site in a meadow south of the village of Guzhenkino in Polokovsky Region (Tver Oblast). Several bodies have been found, but have yet to be identified.
An investigation has been opened “Violation of Aviation Security Rules”. “A team of investigators has been sent to the spot. (…) Establishing the causes of the accident.The Russian Investigative Committee said.
Telegram channel The gray zone, Mr. Prigozhin and Wagner, close to the group, openly accused the Russian military of shooting down the plane with an anti-aircraft missile. The gray zone says witnesses heard “Two Characteristic Explosions of Anti-Aircraft Defense Work” Also based on clues found in videos of the crash posted online.
Who were on the plane that crashed?
“There were ten people on board, including three crew members. According to initial reports, all those on the boat were dead.The Russian Emergencies Ministry first announced on Telegram.
Rosaviatsia confirmed that Yevgeny Prigozhin was on the plane with his right-hand man, Dmitry Utkin. This wise man, known for his neo-Nazi sympathies, is the true founder of the militia. Wagner, whose name was de Guerre.
Morning of the world
Each morning, select 20 must-have articles
Download the app
Russian news agency Interfax on Telegram reported that the bodies of ten people on board had been found, citing emergency services. The search is over, he added, without specifying whether the victims could be identified.
What was the relationship between Yevgeny Prigogine and Vladimir Putin?
After spending nine years in prison during the Soviet era for common law crimes, Yevgeny Prigozhin set up the Kremlin-operated Reconstruction Committee that earned him his nickname. “Putin’s Chef”, and fame as a billionaire from public contracts. With this money he allegedly found Wagner, a private army initially made up of hardened soldiers and special services of the Russian army.
During the conflict in Ukraine, the Russian military recruited tens of thousands of prisoners to fight on the troubled front lines. In May 2023, after nearly a year of bloody fighting, Mr Prigozhin achieved his goal, celebrating a rare Russian victory that Wagner claimed had captured Bagmouth in eastern Ukraine.
He then launched a rebellion against the Russian General Staff and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, led by his men, who briefly seized military bases in southern Russia before moving on to Moscow. The mercenary leader abandoned the coup after twenty-four hours, negotiating exile for himself and his followers in Belarus. He escaped prison, justice, but Vladimir Putin condemned him without uttering his name. “treason” By Yevgeny Prigozhin, “motivated by high ambitions and personal interests”.
In July, the Russian president offered Wagner’s men to serve under the command of another man in the army, but their leader, Yevkhuni Prigozhin, refused the offer.
What was Yevgeny Prigogine doing in Russia?
For some reason never explained, Wagner’s boss appeared to be visiting Russia despite his status as a pariah, until a few days after the uprising he attended a meeting in the Kremlin.
On Monday evening, he appeared in a video posted by groups close to Wagner on social media, where he said he was in Africa. In a desert landscape and armed with an assault rifle, he said he worked “To make Russia greater on all continents and Africa more free”.
What were the reactions to the news of Yevgeny Prigojine’s death?
An adviser to the Ukrainian presidency, Mykhailo Podoliak, hinted that the Kremlin may have removed Vladimir Putin’s rival. “Two months later the spectacular dismissal of Prigogine and Wagner’s command [leur] The coup attempt is Putin’s signal to Russian elites ahead of the 2024 electionsHe believed it and wrote on X (formerly Twitter). “Putin forgives no one”.
US President Joe Biden has said no “not surprised” Possible death of Wagner’s boss. “Some things are happening in Russia that have nothing to do with Putin”He estimated.
Exiled Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikanovskaya known as Yevgeny Prigozhin “Killer” WHO “Can’t Miss”. She trusted X “His death may shatter Wagner’s presence in Belarus”An ally of Moscow.
Did the Kremlin react?
Vladimir Putin delivered a speech at the 80th anniversary celebration on Wednesdaye During World War II, the anniversary of the Battle of Kursk traveled to this part of southwestern Russia, bordering Ukraine. Without mentioning the accident, the Russian president congratulated the crowd on stage “Commitment” And this “Faith” Russian soldiers in Ukraine, who “Fight with courage and determination”.
In St. Petersburg, near the campus of the Wagner Company, a monument was upgraded on Wednesday evening. Candles, flowers, badges and banners bearing the paramilitary group’s image were held and supporters of the armed militia gathered.
“Alcohol enthusiast. Twitter ninja. Tv lover. Falls down a lot. Hipster-friendly coffee geek.”