Wagner boss Prigozhin presumed dead after Russia plane crash

THE head of the Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has been reported ‘dead’ after a plane crash in north of Moscow on Tuesday, August 22. 

While it remains uncertain whether Prigozhin definitively boarded the flight, his name was listed as one of the passengers on the plane.

According to Russia’s Ministry for Emergency Situations there were 10 people on board, including three crew members. Preliminary information confirmed all those on board died.

The plane, which crashed 60 miles north of Moscow, was flying from Moscow to St. Petersburg.

Al Jazeera reported that reports in the Russian media, though unverified so far, suggested that air defence systems could have taken down the aircraft.

“Prigozhin was among those on board or was at least listed as among those people on board.

“Some journalists report they’re in touch with his press secretary, who is refusing to confirm that. A second jet was also in the air that’s turned around and gone back to St Petersburg,” Al Jazeera reported.

Russia state-media RIA news confirmed that the Country’s Federal Air Transport Agency has launched an investigation into the crash, which happened in the Tver region of Russia.

The ICIR reports that the Wagner Group Chief, Priogozhin, led a surprise rebellion against the Russian leadership in June. 

The Wagner Group briefly claimed control over military facilities in parts of Russian cities, prompting armed troops to march toward Moscow, but the fight was called off after an agreement between Putin and Prigozhin.

He accused the Russian military leadership of being corrupt and incompetent, complaining of inadequate munitions and supplies for his fighters serving on the front lines of Putin’s war in Ukraine for months. 

He also claimed that the Russian army deliberately attacked his forces.

In 2014, Prigozhin founded the mercenary firm the Wagner Group, though he repeatedly denied running the group until last year. 

His group had reportedly been involved in many war, including 

Moscow in the annexation of Crimea and the Russian-Ukraine war.

The ICIR also reports that the Wagner group has emerged as a staunch advocate of the military coup in Niger Republic.

Prigozhin publicly supported the coup in Niger through a social media message and suggested that his Wagner Group mercenaries would be available to work for the military leaders if needed.

He defended the Niger coup, attributing it to the historical legacies of colonialism and accusing Western countries like the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and others of sponsoring terrorism in the West African nation, stating that these events had been unfolding for years.

Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: umustapha@icirnigeria.com. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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