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Wagner Group Leader Yevgeny Prigozhin Believed to Have Died Following Plane Crash in Russia

Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin was reportedly among the passengers aboard a Russian jet that crashed, resulting in the deaths of all 10 individuals on board. The crash occurred in the Tver region, northwest of Moscow. Social media linked to the Wagner mercenary group have suggested that Prigozhin’s private plane was shot down by Russian air defenses. The Grey Zone Telegram channel stated that Prigozhin died due to actions by traitors to Russia.

Prigozhin had previously led a failed mutiny against the Russian armed forces in June, though some experts believe the mutiny was staged, and he abandoned his “justice march” on Moscow after direct orders from President Vladimir Putin. The crash coincided with reports of the removal of senior Russian general Sergei Surovikin, who was known to have a connection with Prigozhin. The crashed aircraft, an Embraer-135, was en route from Moscow to St Petersburg with seven passengers and three crew members.

An investigation has been initiated into the crash, and all 10 bodies have been recovered. The Wagner mercenary group, which Prigozhin was associated with, has been involved in various conflicts including those in Ukraine, Syria, and West Africa, and is known for its brutality. Prigozhin’s mutiny had created tensions with Russian military commanders and President Putin.

President Putin’s initial response to Prigozhin’s challenge to Russia’s defense establishment was strongly negative. The circumstances surrounding Prigozhin’s death, if confirmed, have raised speculation, with some eyebrows being raised about the possibility of deliberate targeting. US President Joe Biden expressed that he was “not surprised” by the news of Prigozhin’s potential death.

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