Plane crashes near Moscow, Yevgeny Prigozhin on passenger list

A plane has crashed northwest of Moscow, and Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner mercenary chief, is thought to be among the 10 people killed in the crash. The plane was an Embraer business jet and crashed in Russia's Tver region. The aircraft belonged to Prigozhin's team and repeatedly flew to Belarus. Flight tracking data shows that a private jet registered to Wagner took off from Moscow on Wednesday evening. Minutes after takeoff, the jet's transponder signal was lost in a rural area with no nearby airfields.


Yevgeny Prigozhin was a Russian oligarch and mercenary leader who was formerly a close confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin until he launched a rebellion in June 2023. He was sometimes called "Putin's chef" as he owned restaurants and catering companies that provided services for the Kremlin. He controlled a network of influential companies, notably the Wagner private military company, which was supported by the Russian state, as well as three companies accused of interference in the 2016 and 2018 US elections.


The crash immediately raised suspicions since the fate of the founder of the Wagner private military company has been the subject of intense speculation ever since he mounted the mutiny. At the time, President Vladimir Putin denounced the rebellion as "treason" and a "stab in the back" and vowed to avenge it. But the charges against Prigozhin were soon dropped.

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The future of the Wagner Group had been unclear since June when tensions between Wagner and Russia's defense ministry escalated dramatically. Prigozhin alleged that Russian forces had attacked Wagner camps in eastern Ukraine, killing dozens of his men.

This is a developing story, and more information will be available as it unfolds. Stay tuned for updates. 

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