AUGUST 23, 2023
Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin was on the passenger list of a plane that crashed in Russia’s Tver region on Wednesday, according to the press service of the Federal Air Transport Agency.
Ten people were killed in the crash, but it is not yet clear whether he was actually on board the plane.
“An investigation has been launched into the crash of the Embraer aircraft, which occurred tonight in the Tver region. According to the list of passengers, among them is the name and surname of Yevgeny Prigozhin,” the department said in a statement.
Among the 10 dead were three crew members and seven passengers. Everyone on board the plane was killed.
Prigozhin is the head of the private paramilitary organization Wagner Group, which played a key role in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine before briefly launching an insurrection against the Russian military in June. Forces loyal to Prigozhin marched toward Moscow, before turning back after several days.
Prigozhin allegedly struck a deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin where he didn’t face prosecution and was relocated to Belarus, according to the Kremlin. The Russian president and Prigozhin allegedly met face to face on June 29, less than a week after the failed coup, the Kremlin said.
On July 3, Prigozhin released a message on social media claiming the rebelling was aimed at “fighting traitors and mobilizing our society.”
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“I think we have achieved a lot of it. In the near future, I am sure that you will see our next victories at the front. Thanks guys,” he allegedly said.
Prigozhin helped to launch the Wagner Group toward the beginning of the Ukraine-Russia conflict on the Crimean Peninsula around 2014, according to reports published by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.
In 2018, U.S. prosecutors charged Prigozhin for his suspected role in funding the Internet Research Agency, which the U.S. described as a Russian “troll farm” that sought to use digital campaigns to increase political and social tensions in the U.S.
Viktor Antonyuk/Sputnik via AP, FILE–
The Department of Justice accused the IRA of conspiring to “defraud the United States … for the purpose of interfering with the U.S. political and electoral processes, including the presidential election of 2016.”
The complaint described tactics like posing as U.S. citizens and creating false online personas.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.