Mysterious Plane Crash Claims Life of Wagner Warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin
In a shocking turn of events, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner warlord known for leading a failed uprising against the Kremlin two months ago, was reportedly among the casualties in a plane crash northwest of Moscow. The incident has sparked widespread speculation and intrigue regarding the circumstances leading to the crash.
A private Embraer jet, en route from Moscow to St. Petersburg, crashed near the village of Kuzhenkino in Russia’s Tver region. The flight data indicates that the plane had reached an altitude of approximately 28,000 feet before it abruptly ceased transmitting tracking details. All passengers and crew members on board, including Prigozhin, were declared dead by Russia’s aviation agency. The plane had been airborne for roughly 30 minutes before the tragedy.
Footage released by Russian state media outlet RIA Novosti depicted a plane in descent, seemingly missing a wing. While the authenticity of the video remains unconfirmed, it has intensified the mystery surrounding the crash.
Miles O’Brien, a seasoned science and aerospace reporter, commented on the footage, stating, “An aircraft like this … they just don’t catastrophically drop out of the sky without something very unusual happening.” He further speculated that the crash might have been caused by an internal or external explosion, such as an onboard explosive or a missile strike. David Soucie, a former safety inspector with the US Federal Aviation Administration, concurred, noting the plane appeared to be missing a wing during its descent.
Russia’s aviation agency listed Prigozhin and several top Wagner associates as passengers on the ill-fated flight. Further evidence linking Prigozhin to the crash emerged when a video from RIA Novosti allegedly showed the crash site with visible registration numbers on the plane’s debris, matching that of Prigozhin’s known aircraft.
Speculations of Retribution:
The timing of the crash, precisely two months after Prigozhin’s attempted mutiny against the Kremlin, has fueled speculations of a possible orchestrated attack. The rebellion had seen Prigozhin and his Wagner troops seizing crucial military sites and advancing towards Moscow. However, before a confrontation could ensue, a deal was brokered, ending the rebellion and relocating Prigozhin and his troops to Belarus.
This uprising was the most significant challenge to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s reign in over two decades. Consequently, Prigozhin’s involvement painted a target on his back, with many experts believing his days were numbered.
US President Joe Biden weighed in on the incident, hinting at Putin’s potential involvement. “I don’t know for a fact what happened, but I’m not surprised,” he remarked. Other US officials, including CIA Director Bill Burns and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, have echoed these sentiments, alluding to Putin’s history of settling scores and the mysterious deaths of Russian critics.
Despite the controversies surrounding him, Prigozhin and the Wagner group have garnered significant support within Russia. Following the crash, mourners in St. Petersburg paid tribute to Prigozhin, leaving flowers, candles, and Wagner insignias. Videos also captured the public displaying a banner outside Wagner’s headquarters, reading, “Wagner PMC. We are together.”
However, the sentiment is starkly different in Ukraine, where Wagner forces played a pivotal role in capturing several towns earlier this year. CNN’s Chief International Security Correspondent, Nick Paton Walsh, noted the lack of sympathy in Ukraine, stating, “There will be no tears shed here at all, if indeed he has died.”
The sudden and mysterious death of Yevgeny Prigozhin has left more questions than answers. As investigations continue, the world watches closely, awaiting clarity on whether this was a tragic accident or a calculated act of retribution.