Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin feared dead in plane crash

Wagner group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin feared dead in plane crash: Jet believed to be carrying warlord ‘falls from the sky’ north of Moscow two months after failed coup

Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin is feared dead after a plane – with his name on the passenger list – crashed in Russia tonight, two months after his failed coup attempt against Putin. 

Video footage purportedly shows the aircraft falling out of the sky in the Bologovsky district in the Tver region. A burning wreckage, which appears to be of a plane, was later seen in a field, with unconfirmed images showing it completely ablaze.

It was initially unknown if Wagner chief Prigozhin – known as Putin’s chef and with longstanding links to the Kremlin dictator – was on board, but it has since been reported that the passenger list included his name.

A report from Rosaviatsiya – the Russian aviation agency – said Prigozhin was among the passengers – but despite AfP initially confirming the death, it is now being reported the exact identies of those killed are unknown.

Russian authorities have said a business jet crash in Russia killed 10 people.

It was initially unknown if Wagner chief Prigozhin (pictured in March this year) – known as the Wagner chief and with longstanding links to the Kremlin dictator – was on board

The plane, which had Prigozhin named as a passenger on its flight list, was later reported to be engulfed in fire, as images on social media claimed to show the wreckage

Witnesses to the crash heard a loud bang before they saw the jet ‘fall from the sky’ – locals on social media are sharing these images of the aftermath, although it is unconfirmed at this stage if this is the plane 

Witnesses to the crash heard a loud bang before they saw the jet ‘fall from the sky’.

Images shared on social media purport to show the burning wreckage of the plane in a field in the Tver region. 

Plumes of black smoke can be seen bellowing into the sky, with the wreck completely engulfed in flames. 

The numbers 795 can just about be made out on the edge of the scrap pile, which matches the plane linked to the ex-military leader. 

Prigozhin, 62, has been increasingly careful since he led a coup against Putin’s regime exactly two months ago.

After its failure, he had been warned that his life was in danger. He was known to take huge care over his security.

Russia’s state news agency Tass quoted emergency officials as saying that the plane carried three pilots and seven passengers. 

A channel linked to Wagner said the plane had been shot down by air defences, but this has not yet been confirmed.

But sources close to him said that while the aircraft belonged to him, he usually flew on another aircraft.

Earlier this week a video apparently showed him in Africa vowing to make Russia great by deploying his Wagner troops on the continent.

Former Russian presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak said: ‘My sources report that an Embraer plane belonging to Yevgeny Prigozhin has now crashed in the Tver region.

Images shared online purported to show the jet, believed to be carrying the Russian chief, falling to the ground as it crashed in the Tver region in Russia 

A report from Rosaviatsiya – the Russian aviation agency – said Prigozhin was among the passengers

Prigozhin has had long-established links to the Kremlin and until recently led the Wagner mercenary unit

‘This happened 15 kilometres from Khotilovo. According to our information, there were three crew members and seven passengers.

‘Whether Prigozhin himself was on board is unknown.’

Sobchak is known as Putin’s ‘goddaughter’ due to his loyalty to the regime.

But news agency Readovka – linked to Prigozhin – said it was ‘premature’ to say he had died.

He regularly ‘confused everyone’ by changing his travel plans at the last minute, the agency said.

A source told MailOnline: ‘The infrastructure [of the plane] was not damaged, the tail fell off in one settlement, everything else in another.

‘The wing also fell off, we don’t know yet what and where. Three people, the pilots, are torn to pieces, to pieces.

A local woman said she saw parts of the plane, said to be pictured above, fall off as it plunged from the sky

The jet linked to the Wagner chief has previously flown members of his team around Russia

Prigozhin recently claimed to be in an undisclosed location in Africa

‘The rest are in the tail section. Four bodies were picked open, and then it is still not clear. The plane burned out completely.

‘Only the front part, windows and a piece of hardware remained, and a piece of the engine is lying on one wing. Everything else burned out.’

A local woman said she saw parts of the plane fall off as it plunged from the sky.

Prigozhin had been warned not to go into high buildings for fear of accidents after leading a coup aimed at ousting especially defence minister Sergei Shoigu and army chief Gen Valery Gerasimov.

He is known to have used body doubles as part of his elaborate security measures.

Prigozhin, whose private military force Wagner fought alongside Russia’s regular army in Ukraine, mounted a short-lived armed mutiny against Russia’s military leadership in late June. 

His paramilitary unit had previously been associated with some of the worst atrocities of the conflict in Ukraine, but Prigozhin’s relationship with the Kremlin broke down over high mortality rates, lack of equipment and lack of wages.

The Russian warlord had previously threatened to withdraw troops from frontline positions if he was not given the supplies he demanded from Putin. 

The Wagner Group saw some of the worst fighting in the months leading up to June, with numbers so depleted that Prigozhin recruited thousands of dangerous convicted criminals straight out of prison to join his forces.

In late June, Prigozhin launched an unprecedented verbal attack on President Putin and his allies before marching 25,000 troops towards Moscow.

Having taken the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, the army marched north for several hours, forcing the capital into lockdown, before an agreement between him and the government was reached. 

The mutiny was ended by negotiations and an apparent Kremlin deal which saw Prigozhin agree to relocate to neighbouring Belarus. But he had appeared to move freely inside Russia after the deal nonetheless.

Prigozhin, who had sought to topple Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Valery Gerasimov, chief of the general staff, had posted a video address just this Monday which he suggested was shot in Africa – but the date of the shoot is unknown.

More follows.  

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