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Wagner Leader Prigozhin Dies in Plane Crash: Accident or Malice?

According to reports from Russian Media Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the private military company Wagner Group, was on a business jet that crashed in Russia. Russia’s aviation agency later confirmed that Prigozhin was indeed on board the flight linked to the Wagner Group. Tragically, all 10 individuals aboard the aircraft, including three crew members, lost their lives in the crash.

This Plane Crash occurred approximately two months after Yevgeny Prigozhin led a brief yet impactful rebellion. This rebellion was notable for being one of the most significant challenges to the authority of Russian President Vladimir Putin since his ascent to power.

You can also read: Is Prigozhin’s bold move a tipping point in Russia’s political landscape?

As a result of these events, uncertainty has enveloped the future of both the Wagner Group and its controversial leader. Recently, Russia’s Ministry for Emergency Situations reported the crash of a private aircraft that was traveling between Moscow and Saint Peter.

Who is Yevgeny Prigozhin?

Wagner paramilitary forces were actively engaged in the Russian incursion into Ukraine, prominently participating in the battle for Bakhmut. Yet, tensions escalated between the mercenary faction and the official Russian military, leading to Prigozhin’s choice to withdraw his troops from Ukraine and subsequently advance toward Moscow, successfully capturing the pivotal city of Rostov-on-Don.

Born in St. Petersburg on June 1, 1961, Prigozhin served nine years in Soviet prisons for robbery and fraud. Released in 1990 as the Soviet Union dissolved, he became a caterer and restaurateur in his hometown, possibly meeting Putin during that time. Using political connections, he gained state contracts and became known as “Putin’s chef,” jokingly referring to himself as “Putin’s butcher” later.

In 2014, Prigozhin founded Wagner, a private military company deploying fighters to aid Moscow’s allies in Syria, Libya, and the Central African Republic. The US sanctioned the company over alleged atrocities, which Prigozhin denied.

In the months leading up to these events, the 62-year-old leader strongly criticized Russia’s military leadership. He directed his criticism primarily at Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov. He raised concerns about inadequate supplies for his forces and eventually alleged that Russian military units had targeted Wagner mercenaries.

The insurrection was eventually quelled through negotiations facilitated by Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko. The agreement stipulated that the mercenary leader and his forces would relocate to Belarus. However, contradictory reports surfaced, suggesting that he departed from Belarus shortly thereafter.

Was this an accident, or not?

Russian authorities are currently investigating various potential scenarios to determine the cause of Prigozhin’s plane crash, amidst swirling rumors concerning the demise of the former head of Wagner. Al Jazeera’s Daniel Hawkins, reporting from Moscow, explained, “Investigators are exploring multiple theories regarding the circumstances of this plane’s descent, encompassing factors ranging from pilot error to technical malfunction.”

He continued, “Initially, a case was initiated regarding violations of aviation regulations. However, they have now broadened their scope to consider alternative hypotheses: the possibility of onboard explosions, external forces, or any other potential factors. Their approach remains open-ended regarding the precise trigger for this crash. Was it an unfortunate accident, or is there more to it?”

Jet-carrying Prigozhin had solid safety record

The Embraer executive jet, reportedly transporting Prigozhin, boasted a commendable safety record, with just a single recorded accident over a span exceeding two decades, as indicated by Reuters.

According to information sourced from the International Aviation HQ website, that the only previous incident took place in 2006 and was attributed to errors by the flight crew, rather than any technical malfunction.

The jet’s historically solid performance is likely to intensify speculations that the crash might be linked to foul play, considering Prigozhin’s involvement in a botched insurrection against the Russian defense ministry in June.

Ukraine mulls implications of plane crash

Authorities are waiting to perceive what consequence Prigozhin’s apparent death could have on the battlefield in Ukraine, where the Wagner mercenary group plays an significant role in Russia’s war effort.

Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride remarked that Prigozhin doesn’t enjoy much favor in Kyiv, and suspicions abound that the plane crash today might be linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Additionally, Ukraine is pondering over the potential implications of this incident on the dynamics of Russian politics.

‘There’s also a strong curiosity here regarding the broader implications within Russia,’ McBride explained.

Prigozhin’s short-lived mutiny against Putin

Russian leader Vladimir Putin characterized Prigozhin’s deeds as “treachery” during a public statement delivered shortly after the mercenaries commenced their advance.

Before this incident, Prigozhin held a significant role as an associate of Putin, previously even working as his personal chef. Exploiting his position, he initiated several enterprises, notably the Wagner Group.

His direct defiance of the Kremlin and the established authority of President Putin marked one of the most significant challenges encountered since Putin assumed control more than two decades ago.

Wagner Group’s Fate Uncertain

The passing of Yevgeny Prigozhin has plunged the Wagner Group into a state of chaos and uncertainty. This private military company recognized for its participation in conflicts spanning Africa and Eastern Europe, had previously incurred the displeasure of Putin.

As a consequence of its ill-fated endeavor to stage a rebellion against the leadership of the Russian army. Now, with Prigozhin’s demise in the plane crash, the destiny of the Wagner Group teeters on the edge, raising questions among onlookers about the continuation of its activities in diverse geographical areas.

The post Wagner Leader Prigozhin Dies in Plane Crash: Accident or Malice? appeared first on Press Xpress.

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Wagner Leader Prigozhin Dies in Plane Crash: Accident or Malice?


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