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An plane mentioned to be carrying infamous warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin, whose Wagner group launched a failed mutiny in June, has crashed on a flight from Moscow to St Petersburg, in response to Russian officers.


All 10 individuals on the airplane, together with three crew members, died within the crash, Russia’s emergency ministry mentioned, in response to state newswire RIA Novosti. Russian officers mentioned a person with Prigozhin’s identify was among the many passengers, with out elaborating additional.

If confirmed, Prigozhin’s loss of life would mark a spectacular finish to his profession. After enjoying a distinguished function in Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Prigozhin in June led his paramilitary pressure on a historic, abortive mutiny march on Moscow.

Yevgeny Prigozhin
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the proprietor of the Wagner Group army firm speaks right into a digital camera at an unknown location © Razgruzka_Vagnera telegram channel through AP

Movies shared on social media channels identified to be near the Russian safety providers confirmed graphic photos of a crash website within the Tver area north-west of Moscow, close to the village of Kuzhenkino. The footage appeared to point out emergency providers approaching the burning carcass of a airplane. Eight our bodies have been recovered from the location, authorities mentioned.

The Russian investigative committee mentioned it had opened a prison case in relation to the crash. Rosaviatsiya, the Russian aviation company, mentioned it had launched a fee and was looking for the airplane’s black field.

A put up by Gray Zone, a Wagner-connected social media channel, claimed Russian anti-aircraft defences had shot down the airplane. It mentioned that residents heard “two bursts of attribute air defence hearth” earlier than the crash. “That is confirmed by inversion traces within the sky in one of many movies,” it added.

Mash, a information outlet on social media app Telegram, mentioned locals had heard two loud bangs earlier than the crash.

Putin was talking at a live performance to commemorate the second world battle within the Kursk area close to the border with Ukraine when the crash was reported.

US president Joe Biden, who’s on vacation in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, advised reporters he didn’t “know for a truth what occurred” however was “not stunned”. He added: “Not a lot occurs in Russia that Putin’s not behind.”

A spokeswoman for the US Nationwide Safety Council mentioned: “If confirmed, nobody needs to be stunned. The disastrous battle in Ukraine led to a non-public military marching on Moscow, and now — it might appear — to this.”

A western official mentioned they’d been advised the airplane had been introduced down by a Russian anti-aircraft missile system however couldn’t verify whether or not Prigozhin was on board, including: “Putin doesn’t take prisoners.”

Flightpath of Prigozhin’s plane, shot down en route to St Petersburg

A former Kremlin caterer referred to as “Putin’s chef”, Prigozhin emerged as one of the vital leaders of Russia’s battle effort earlier than souring on the army’s management to such an extent that he launched a coup in opposition to them in late June.

Though Wagner’s males in impact seized management of two massive cities in southern Russia, killing not less than 13 troopers as they downed two helicopters and a airplane on their march to Moscow, Putin had appeared to forgive them.

Underneath an settlement with the Kremlin, Wagner decamped for exile in neighbouring Belarus, whose chief Alexander Lukashenko brokered the truce.

Prigozhin mentioned final month that Wagner’s males would ultimately redeploy to Africa, the place the group continues to struggle as mercenaries in a number of conflicts. He appeared in a video on Monday saying that he was in Africa on a mission to “make Russia even better on all continents”.

Though Prigozhin appeared to have been reintegrated into the Russian safety institution, US officers had mentioned they anticipated he would face retribution.

“Putin is somebody who typically thinks that revenge is a dish finest served chilly,” William Burns, CIA director, mentioned whereas talking on the Aspen Safety Discussion board final month. “Putin is the final word apostle of payback so I might be stunned if Prigozhin escapes additional retribution.”

The plane, an Embraer Legacy, was the identical airplane that Prigozhin had usually used to journey round Russia and as far-off as Africa, in response to flight monitoring website Flightradar24. Not too long ago, the jet had been making journeys to Belarus.

When the Embraer jet final broadcast its place, it was flying at 28,000ft close to Tver and shifting at a floor velocity of 513 knots. The route seems to be the plane’s regular flight path to St Petersburg, a run it final made on July 6.

Video of the crash and its aftermath posted by social media with ties to Russian safety providers confirmed the airplane quickly descending from the sky, accompanied by a plume resembling pictures fired from anti-aircraft defences, earlier than crashing to the bottom in a ball of flames.

Video description

Footage posted on a Wagner-linked Telegram channel exhibits a airplane falling within the sky close to the village of Kuzhenkino

A video grab taken from footage posted on a Wagner-linked Telegram channel shows a plane falling in the sky near the village of Kuzhenkino

Footage posted on a Wagner-linked Telegram channel exhibits a airplane falling within the sky close to the village of Kuzhenkino © Telegram/@grey_zone/AFP/Reuters

Footage posted on a Wagner-linked Telegram channel exhibits a airplane falling within the sky close to the village of Kuzhenkino

Nevertheless, Mash additionally reported that safety providers had been investigating the potential of a “terrorist assault on board” as one other potential explanation for the blast.

Earlier on Wednesday, it was reported that Russia’s military had dismissed Sergei Surovikin, a distinguished basic believed to be near Prigozhin, as head of its aerospace forces amid a crackdown on potential Wagner sympathisers.

State newswire RIA Novosti cited an “knowledgeable supply” saying Surovikin had been “relieved of his put up” and changed by Viktor Afzalov, the aerospace pressure chief of employees. Surovikin has not been seen in public for the reason that failed mutiny.

Extra reporting by Chris Prepare dinner

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