Russian State media are saying that Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of Russia’s Wagner Group who contested Vladimir Putin’s power only months ago, was one of 10 individuals killed in an aircraft accident on Wednesday outside of Moscow.
According to the report, the corporate plane crashed in the Tver area on its way from Moscow to St. Petersburg, as reported by TASS.
Confirmed by the Federal Air Transport Agency, Prigozhin was one of the passengers, according to a Telegram message by TASS. The agency said that an inquiry into the Embraer aircraft accident has begun.
Russian official media subsequently announced that Prigozhin had died in the accident, albeit at the time, it was unclear if he was among the ten people who had been reported killed.
US reports show the Pentagon has assured US media that it is keeping a close eye on developments.
Russia’s Investigative Committee said on Sunday that genetic testing officially verifies Wagner paramilitary organization leader Yevgeny Prigozhin’s death.
Dmitry Utkin, the enigmatic personality who handled Wagner’s activities and who may have worked in Russian military intelligence, was one of the other nine passengers on the Embraer private plane.
Svetlana Petrenko, a spokeswoman for the committee, explained in an announcement that forensic testing positively identified all ten of the remains that were found at the scene of the incident on Wednesday, adding that the results agree with the manifest of the aircraft that crashed. However, the statement did not provide any more information on the possible reasons for the crash.
According to reports, Yevgeny Prigozhin was known for going to great measures to keep himself safe when traveling. This included having members of the Wagner Group change their identities to “Yevgeny Prigozhin” so that it is ambiguous whether or not he is, in fact, on any particular trip. Thus, the necessity for DNA testing to verify that the remains are his.