A private jet crashed in Russia with Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin on board with some of his lieutenants and three crew members; all are confirmed dead, including Prigozhin. Russian authorities verified that the Wagner Chief was dead and cleared all doubts about whether the Wagner boss was on the aircraft that crashed and killed all the people onboard. Genetic testing was performed to identify and recognize all the deceased, which confirms Wagner’s boss’s death. On Sunday, Svetlana Petrenko, the Russian Investigative Committee spokeswoman, expressed that DNA testing of all ten recovered dead bodies was clear and obvious.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Kremlin confirmed the list of seven passengers, including Prigozhin, his top lieutenants, and three crew members. The investigative agency did not give details about what caused the commercial plane to go down between Moscow and St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg is the hometown of Wagner Chief Yevgeny Prigozhin. The timing of the plane crash raised questions claiming the hit was pre-planned by the Kremlin, but Moscow has rejected all those claims.
The investigation committee shared on the Telegram channel that the results were shared after the complete molecular genetic examination. Dmitriy Utkin was on the journey with Prigozhin, a trusted lieutenant of the Wagner Chief who had been working with him since the Wagner mercenary group was established. Valeriy Chekalov, a senior aide to Prigozhin, was also one of the plane crash victims. He was the second in command and was the mercenary’s logistics mastermind. He was long believed to be the founder of Wagner Mercenary.
Prigozhin’s Friendship With Putin Turned Into Mutiny
An associate professor at the US National Defense University, Peter Eltsov, stated that there are still some conspiracy theories about Prigozhin still alive. He added that the theories made it very clear how big the Chief’s personality was and how popular he was in Russia. He has been an iconic hero for many of his supporters, and his popularity was rising.
About two months ago, the mercenary Chief declared a mutiny against the Kremlin and started marching towards Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin aggressively responded, said those actions were acts of treason and vowed to Punish all the personnel found involved. President Putin immediately cut a deal with Wagner Chief and conditioned him to stop his march and resettle in Belarus; then, all the charges against him would be removed, and he would be set free. Questions remain about whether Prigozhin would face the consequences after the short-term mutiny, which became the biggest challenge for Russian President Putin in 23 years of long rule.
Prigozhin fought for a long in Ukrainian territories for Russia since the start of the invasion in February 2022. He was leading a tough battle with a lot of achievements on the ground. Earlier, he accused the army of stealing Wagner’s accomplishments and said Moscow’s bureaucracy had tried to grind the mercenary on the battleground. He directly accused the Russian defense of insufficient ammunition supplies and blamed the defense minister Sergei Shoigu and other senior officials for the deaths of Mercenary troops. Russian Generals were criticized for battling in Ukraine, but at the same time, Prigozhin made achievements and took pictures with his soldiers alongside the frontlines.
Prigozhin Challenged Zelenskyy Fir Aerial Duel
He made an image from the cockpit of a fighter jet Su-24, shared it on social media, and challenged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to an aerial duel. Wagner soldiers played a prominent role in months-long fighting in Ukraine, especially on the eastern sides and the Bakhmut city. It was a tough fight in the Bakhmut where both the opponents lost numerous troops and huge artillery, but at last, Wagner announced full control of the city. Until the confrontation with the Russian government, the mercenary troops fought well, but the scenario completely shifted after the mutiny.
Wagner troops were given three options. They had options to follow Chief Prigozhin to Belarus, retire, or join the regular Kremlin military. Several thousand of the mercenary troops moved to Belarus, where they trained Belarusian soldiers. Some are expected to be merged into the regular Russian army, but many are angry about the sudden accidental death of the Chief in the plane crash. Wagner soldiers had a high level of loyalty to their boss, Prigozhin.