According to Russian official media, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Russian mercenary company Wagner, was a passenger on a jet that crashed northwest of Moscow, killing all 10 people on board.
“An investigation has been launched into the crash of the Embraer aircraft, which occurred tonight in the Tver region,” the Federal Air Transport Agency said in a statement, according to the official state news agency TASS. “According to the list of passengers, among them is the name and surname of Yevgeny Prigozhin.”
According to the Russian Ministry of Emergency Services, the private Embraer plane carrying seven passengers and three crew members went down on Wednesday near the village of Kuzhenkino in the Tver area.
According to early reports, all passengers on board were dead, the government stated, adding that they “are conducting search operations.
If Prigozhin was on board the aircraft when it crashed, the authorities did not confirm it.
According to emergency services, four dead have been discovered at the crash scene, according to TASS. The plane “burned up” on impact after around 30 minutes in the air, it was stated.
Following the crash, Russian investigators opened a criminal case. A team was en route to the area, according to the Russian Investigative Committee, to “establish the causes of the crash.”
The incident occurred a few months after Prigozhin attempted to overthrow the military leadership of Russia, posing an unprecedented threat to Vladimir Putin’s authority before it was abruptly aborted as part of a deal that required the Wagner commander and his fighters to relocate to Belarus.
After Russia’s extensive invasion of Ukraine last year, Wagner forces played a significant role in the conquest of the eastern Ukrainian cities of Soledar and Bakhmut. Prior to calling for the armed insurrection, Prigozhin spent months denouncing the Russian military command and the assistance it was providing his troops.
A senior Ukrainian official told CNN on Wednesday that the plane that crashed north of Moscow “is a manifestation of Putin’s Russia.”
“This is why we are fighting, we don’t want to be a part of Putin’s world,” the senior official, who is close to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said.