24 Aug 2023

Wagner Chief Yevgeny Prigozhin Who Had Rebelled Against Vladimir Putin Among 11 Dead In In Private Jet Crash In Russia

Yevgeny Prigozhin, who rebelled against Russian President Vladimir Putin in June, died in a plane crash late on Wednesday. He was the chief of the private army Wagner Mercenary Group.  Ten more people are reported to have died in the crash.

According to the information this crash happened in the northern area of Moscow. Russia's Civil Aviation Authority only said that Yevgeny's name was included in the passenger list. This Ember aircraft was going from Moscow to St. Petersburg.

Eight bodies have been recovered after the private jet reportedly containing Yevgeny Prigozhin crashed in the Tver region north of Moscow. 

The Wagner mercenary boss was on board the aircraft when it came down, authorities have said.

Russian media outlet Baza said eight dead bodies were found at the scene, all of them so badly burnt it would take a DNA test to confirm their identities. One of the bodies has a missing head.

Yevgeny was once a close confidant of Putin

The 62-year-old paramilitary leader, once a close confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin, led a short-lived mutiny against the Russian government in late June after spending months vocally criticizing his country's top brass. His forces, known for their particularly violent battlefield tactics, spearheaded a number of battles for Russia on the Ukrainian front.

An apparent deal was made between Prigozhin and Putin after the aborted coup, which was meant to see the Wagner Group leader and his forces relocate to neighbouring Belarus. Prigozhin himself pledged to leave Russia for good. 

It is not clear when and how he reached Russia. A Russian officer told – We have started investigating the crash. There are some videos of the crash on social media, though their authenticity is yet to be confirmed.

Plane was shot down by Russian air defences?

Wagner-linked Telegram channels have reported that the plane was shot down by Russian air defences.

Prigozhin was born on 1 June 1961 in Saint Petersburg. Prigozhin, like Putin, grew up in St. Petersburg. According to Russian court documents, Yevgeny Prigozhin was convicted of assault, robbery and fraud in 1981 and sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Yevgeny opened a restaurant after release from prison

However, Yevgeny Prigozhin was released after 9 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Yevgeny decided to do business after coming out of prison. First started setting up a hot dog stall. After this he opened a restaurant. 

Yevgeny's restaurant soon became very popular. It became the trendiest dining spot in St. Petersburg. The popularity can be gauged from the fact that Putin himself used to visit this restaurant with world leaders.

Yevgeny was emerging as a rival power center to the Russian army

Yevgeny Prigozhin wanted to set up a military structure equivalent to the army in Belgorod and Kursk, the Russian region bordering Ukraine. This is also the training facility and recruitment center of the Wagner Army. According to some military experts, Yevgeny's Wagner Army itself was emerging as a rival power center to the Russian army.

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