An aircraft carrying Yevgeny Prigozhin, a notorious warlord and leader of the Wagner group, has crashed on a flight from Moscow to St Petersburg, resulting in the death of all 10 people on board. Prigozhin had recently led a failed mutiny against Russia’s military leadership and had been living in exile in Belarus. His death, if confirmed, would mark the end of his controversial career during President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The cause of the crash is still under investigation, with speculation ranging from a possible shootdown by Russian anti-aircraft defenses to a potential terrorist attack on board.
Prigozhin, also known as “Putin’s chef,” was a key figure in Russia’s war effort before turning against the military leadership and launching a coup in June. While Wagner’s paramilitary force successfully seized control of two major cities in southern Russia during their march to Moscow, Putin appeared to forgive them and brokered an agreement for their exile in Belarus. Prigozhin had indicated that Wagner’s men would be redeployed to Africa, where they continue to fight as mercenaries in various conflicts. Despite Prigozhin’s apparent reintegration into the Russian security establishment, American officials had previously expected him to face retribution.
The flight that crashed was an Embraer Legacy, which Prigozhin had often used for travel within Russia and to Africa. The crash occurred while the plane was traveling at normal flight speed and altitude on a route it had previously taken. Video footage and eyewitness accounts suggest that the aircraft rapidly descended from the sky accompanied by what appeared to be shots from anti-aircraft defenses before crashing and erupting into flames. The crash is being investigated as a possible terrorist attack, in addition to other potential causes.
Overall, the death of Yevgeny Prigozhin in the plane crash marks a dramatic end to his controversial career as a warlord. As an important leader in Russia’s war effort, his actions have had a significant impact on the conflict in Ukraine. The cause of the crash is still uncertain, with theories ranging from a shootdown by Russian anti-aircraft defenses to a possible terrorist attack on board. Regardless of the cause, Prigozhin’s death is likely to have repercussions and could potentially lead to further retribution from President Putin. The investigation is ongoing, and further details of the incident are still emerging.