In a shocking turn of events, a plane alleged to be ferrying the infamous warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin, the mastermind behind the Wagner group’s failed rebellion in June, has met with disaster, crashing on its journey from Moscow to St Petersburg.

The accident claimed the lives of all 10 individuals onboard, including three crew members, as per Russia’s emergency ministry. Russian authorities have identified a passenger with Prigozhin’s name, without providing further details.

The death of Prigozhin, if confirmed, would signal an astonishing cessation to his high-flying career amidst President Vladimir Putin’s ongoing incursion into Ukraine. This news comes just two months after his paramilitary force’s unprecedented and unsuccessful revolt against Moscow.

A report by Grey Zone, a media outlet linked to Wagner, alleges that Russian anti-aircraft defenses downed the plane near the village of Kuzhenkino in the Tver region. Witnesses in the area reported hearing “two bursts of air defense fire” prior to the plane’s descent.

Local news source Mash also conveyed accounts from residents who heard two resounding explosions before the tragedy unfolded.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, once a mere Kremlin caterer, emerged as a central figure in Russia’s war operations, before growing disillusioned with the military’s leadership and orchestrating a coup in late June.

Despite seizing control of key southern Russian cities and inflicting military casualties, Prigozhin and his forces were apparently forgiven by Putin. Following a truce brokered by Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, the Wagner group sought exile in neighboring Belarus.

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Last month, Prigozhin announced that Wagner’s men would reposition to Africa to continue their mercenary activities. Yet, despite seeming reintegration into the Russian security structure, U.S. officials had suspected that Prigozhin might still face reprisal.

The aircraft, an Embraer Legacy, known to be frequently used by Prigozhin, was last tracked at an altitude of 28,000ft, cruising at 513 knots.

Video footage linked to Russian security services depicted the aircraft’s rapid descent, followed by a fiery crash, with visual hints of anti-aircraft defense fire. Additionally, Mash reported that authorities are probing the possibility of an onboard terrorist attack as a potential cause of the explosion.

This catastrophic event raises numerous questions and resonates deeply with the turbulent political climate in Russia, leaving the world to await further developments and revelations.

Update

A video circulating on Twitter, believed to be from the crash site, provides a harrowing glimpse into the tragic incident. Authorities continue to investigate the situation, and additional information will be provided as it becomes available. The embedded video can be viewed below, offering a sobering reminder of the fragility of life and the complex interplay of power and fate within Russia’s political landscape.

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