The Russian news agency TASS reports that Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the Wagner Group paramilitary organization, was listed as a passenger aboard a downed flight on Wednesday in which there were no survivors.
“An investigation has been launched into the crash of the Embraer aircraft that occurred tonight in the Tver region. According to the list of passengers, among them is the name and surname of Yevgeny Prigozhin,” said Rosaviatsiya, Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency, in a statement.
Details about the crash of the Embraer Legacy 600, registered as RA-02795, remain unclear. Some reports say the flight was shot down by Russian defense forces in the Tver region, not far from Moscow. The plane left from Moskva-Sheremetyevo Airport and was headed to St. Petersburg when it went down at about 7:15 p.m. local time near Kuzhenkino, according to information posted on the Aviation Safety Network website.
TASS reported that 10 people, including three crew members, were aboard the plane, believed to be owned by Wagner Group.
Prigozhin, once a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, saw their relationship deteriorate because of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and a bold march against Moscow in June. An assessment by the United States in January put the number of Wagner personnel in Ukraine at 50,000, including 10,000 contractors and 40,000 convicts.
Prigozhin, seen here in a recent video he claimed was recorded in Africa, has long overseen a Wagner Group presence in the Sahel and beyond. He was allegedly in Mali on August 19, according to intelligence reports.
Image: Wagner Telegram post