An Embraer private jet crashed Wednesday afternoon near Russia’s Tver region. The list of passengers included Yevgeniy Prigozhin, the chief of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, which led a short but dramatic mutiny against the Kremlin in June. It is not confirmed whether Prigozhin was on the plane.
Videos circulating on social media showed the remnants of the aircraft ablaze, emitting black smoke. The remains of all 10 people on board the aircraft have been recovered, according to Russian news agency Interfax.
Who was on the Russian plane that crashed?
There were 10 people on board the plane, according to aviation authorities. That figure includes three crew members: two pilots, Aleksei Levshin and Rustam Karimov, and a flight attendant, Kristina Raspopova. According to the flight manifest, the seven passengers included Prigozhin and two of his close associates, Valeriy Chekalov and Dmitry Utkin, who has been referred to as Prigozhin’s right-hand man.
Three of the other passengers were also involved with the Wagner Group, according to the Dossier Center, a Russian investigative organization. The center said the name of a fourth man, Nikolay Mastuseev, could not be found on Wagner rosters, but that a man named Nikolai Matusevich was listed as a Wagner member.
There were no survivors, according to Russian aviation officials.
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Where and when did the plane crash?
The aircraft crashed about a mile south of a settlement called Kuzhenkino, The Washington Post reported, citing geolocated videos. Kuzhenkino is about 200 miles northwest of Moscow.
The aircraft appears to have crashed Wednesday afternoon, according to flight data. Flightradar24, a real-time aviation data service, said it had received data from the aircraft starting at 5:46 p.m. local time. The aircraft continued to transmit data until 6:20 p.m., Flightradar24 said.
Is Wagner chief Prigozhin confirmed dead?
Prigozhin is not confirmed dead. Although his name was on the flight manifest — the roster of passengers and crew — it was not immediately confirmed that he was on board. Russian authorities are in the process of identifying the remains of those involved in the crash.
Has Putin responded to the crash?
No, but Russian President Vladimir Putin has a history of being linked to the suspicious deaths of Russian dissidents who have criticized his rule.
In June, Prigozhin led a mutiny against the Russian military, expressing frustration about Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu for allegedly providing Wagner Group forces in Ukraine with insufficient supplies and carrying out an attack against his troops. The Russian Defense Ministry denied the accusations.
Prigozhin’s forces briefly occupied a Russian city that hosted the headquarters of a Russian command critical to the war in Ukraine. Wagner troops then marched on Moscow, before reversing their advance. Without naming Prigozhin, Putin said the rebels were “traitors.”
Andrea Salcedo, Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff and Mary Ilyushina contributed to this report.