By Emmanuel Nduka
Chief of Russian mercenary group Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, is believed to have been killed in a plane crash, Russian state media reported Wednesday.
According to reports, the aircraft, a business jet, crashed in the Tver region northwest of Moscow, with all 10 people onboard killed.
This is according to Russia’s state news agency TASS, stating that Prigozhin was on its list of passengers.
While Russian officials said that Prigozhin was on the passenger list, it was not immediately clear if he was in the aircraft.
The Russian Ministry of Emergency Services wrote on its Telegram account: “In the Tver region, near the village of Kuzhenkino, a private Embraer Legacy aircraft crashed while flying from Moscow to St. Petersburg. There were 10 people on board, including 3 crew members.”
“According to preliminary information, all on board were killed. EMERCOM of Russia is conducting search operations,” the post read, according to a Google translation.
The 62-year old paramilitary leader, once a close confidant of Putin’s, led a short-lived mutiny against the Russian government in late June after spending months vocally criticizing his country’s top brass. His forces, known for their particularly violent battlefield tactics, spearheaded a number of battles for Russia on the Ukrainian front.
An apparent deal was made between Prigozhin and Russian President Vladimir Putin after the aborted coup, which was meant to see the Wagner Group leader and his forces relocate to Belarus, with Prigozhin himself pledging to leave Russia for good.