Yevgeny Prigozhin: 10 killed in private jet crash in Russia - Wagner leader was ‘on passenger list’
The Wagner boss is believed to be among seven passengers and three crew who were on board the Embraer aircraft, which reportedly crashed just north of Moscow
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Putin has broken his silence on the reported death of Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin following a plane crash north of Moscow. The Russian President spoke of the situation in a television address in Russia, describing his former close ally as a talented businessman who "made serious mistakes".
Prigozhin had been referred to as Putin's "chef" for many years after he signed lucrative contracts to supply food to the Kremlin, with Putin stating: "I have known Prigozhin for a long time, since the beginning of the 1990s." He said of Progozhin: "This was a person with a complicated fate, and he made serious mistakes in life, but also sought to achieve the necessary results - both for himself and at time when I asked him to, for the common cause, such as in these recent months."
The Russian president also said that Russia would "not forget" the "significant contribution to our common cause of fighting the neo-Nazi regime in Ukraine" the Wagner leader and the members of the group gave to the country's fight. Putin has consistently parroted claims that the justification of initial invasion of Ukraine was due to the country harbouring neo-Nazis, a claim which has since been debunked.
He added that the crash is to be investigated by officials. The Wagner mercenary group's chief Yevgeny Prigozhin is presumed dead after a plane crash, alongside his right-hand-man Dmitry Utkin and eight others.
TASS news agency reported that seven passengers and three crew members were on board the Embraer aircraft, which was en route from Moscow to St Petersburg and crashed in the Tver region. All bodies have been recovered, however, the Kremlin has stayed silent about the crash but there is speculation that senior Russian leadership was involved.
Videos circulating on social media appear to show the jet crashing just north of Moscow. Rosaviatsia said: “An investigation has been launched into the Embraer plane crash that occurred tonight in the Tver region.
“According to the passenger list, among them is the name and surname of Yevgeny Prigozhin.” It is believed that Prigozhin was on board the flight.
It comes just two days after Prigozhin shared his first video address since his aborted June mutiny. The 62-year-old, who was sent to Belarus after his failed march on Moscow following a “deal” with Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, released footage of himself speaking about Russia making the continent “free”.
Prigozhin, who was once a close confidant of Vladimir Putin, was wearing camouflage and holding a rifle in the footage, and appeared to be in Africa. He was a key ally of Putin but their relationship turned after the Wagner chief staged a failed mutiny in June - which lasted 24 hours.
Back in October 2019, Russian media outlets reported Prigozhin as dead after it was speculated he was among the passengers on a plane that crashed in the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, a few days later, the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti refuted the reports after a source said: “Evgeny Prigozhin has not left the territory of the Russian Federation for the past few days. All this time he was busy with personal affairs. And he is very surprised that he was considered dead."