Russian investigators confirmed Wagner was the boss Evgeny Prigogine One of the 10 people who died in Wednesday’s plane crash after undergoing genetic tests.
Prigozhin, who led an unsuccessful rebellion against the Kremlin, was previously named as one of those aboard the private plane that crashed in a field northwest of Moscow en route to St. Petersburg, but until now officials have withheld confirmation. He is dead.
“As part of the investigation into the plane crash in the Tver region, molecular genetic tests have been completed,” Russia’s intelligence agency said in a statement posted on its Telegram channel.
“According to their results, the identities of 10 deceased persons have been established, which correspond to the list mentioned in the flight sheet,” it said.
Dmitri Utkin, Prigozhin’s trusted lieutenant from the start of the Wagner Group, and Valery Sekhalov, Prigozhin’s senior aide, were also killed. Three crew members died.
Prigogine’s shady lifestyle and use of security precautions fueled rumors that he was not on board. At a makeshift memorial for him in St. Petersburg this week, CNN found a couple who thought Prigozhin’s death was orchestrated to allow Wagner to send the boss on other missions to benefit Russia.
The accident came two months after Prigozhin attempted to mutiny against Russia’s military leadership.
Prigozhin was once an elusive figure, rising to prominence after his Wagner group gave Russia some rare battlefield victories in its invasion of Ukraine. But he became a fierce critic of the Russian campaign and its leadership.
In June, Prigozhin and his Wagner troops seized key military bases and marched on Moscow, where the Kremlin had heavily armed troops stationed in the streets. But before they could face off, a deal was struck that ended the rebellion and sent Prigozhin and his militia to neighboring Belarus.
It was a huge challenge The regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin In 23 years. This painted a target on Prigogine’s back, with some experts speculating that the warrior was a dead man walking.
The cause of the crash is still unclear, but US and Western intelligence officials believe it was deliberate, according to CNN. US President Joe Biden suggested on Wednesday that Putin may be involved. “I don’t know what happened, but I’m not surprised,” he said.
To date, no evidence has been presented that points to the involvement of the Kremlin or Russian security services in the crash. The cause of the incident is unknown and Russian authorities have launched a criminal investigation.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied claims that the Kremlin may have been involved in the crash, calling such speculation a “complete lie.”
In his first comments on the accident, Putin called Prigozhin “talented” but said he had “made serious mistakes in life”. The two have known each other since the early 1990s, when they both gained influence after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Russia now appears to be trying to rein in groups like Wagner, with Putin signing a decree mandating that paramilitary fighters swear an oath to the government.