Prigoschins Jet Crash: Was it an Assassination Attempt?

The Russian aviation authority Rosaviatsiya announced on Wednesday that the name of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner mercenary group, was on the passenger list of the crashed jet. According to preliminary information, all ten people on board, including Prigozhin, have tragically lost their lives, as confirmed by the Russian Civil Defense. State-run Russian television channel “Rossiya 24” reported in the evening that the Wagner chief had passed away. The official cause of the crash is yet to be determined.

The Embraer Legacy aircraft was scheduled to fly from Moscow to St. Petersburg, where Prigozhin’s businesses are headquartered. It reportedly crashed in the Tver region near the town of Kuschenkino, over 200 kilometers away from Moscow. The aircraft had a crew of three. In the meantime, there are reports suggesting that Prigozhin owns a second aircraft that was not shot down and allegedly landed in Moscow on Wednesday evening.

Speculation is rife regarding the possibility of the crash being an assassination attempt. “Romanov Light,” a well-known Russian war channel, speculates that the Prigozhin aircraft was shot down. “Presumably, the plane was shot down by two S-400 missiles. The location of the crash site is not far from an S-400 air defense system,” the channel reported. The Russian Telegram channel “Greyzone” also reported finding traces of anti-aircraft projectiles in videos, asserting that it is “obvious” that Prigozhin’s plane was shot down. If true, this would suggest that the aircraft of the Wagner boss was deliberately targeted by Russian air defense on Russian territory, making it not just an accident but a case of murder.

Mutiny against the Russian leadership

Exactly two months ago, Prigozhin (62) led his private army, Wagner, in a mutiny against the Russian leadership, the background of which remains unclear. During their march towards Moscow, the mutineers demanded the removal of Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and Chief of General Staff Sergey Gerasimov. However, Prigozhin also criticized President Vladimir Putin himself, earning him the label of a traitor by the Kremlin leader. The mutiny came to an end with Prigozhin and thousands of his armed followers fleeing to Belarus.