The Embraer private jet owned by Wagner Group’s notorious boss Yevgeny Prigozhin crashed in Russia’s Tver region late on 23 August. The flight had 10 people on board, reportedly including Prigozhin himself and his closest associate Dmitry Utkin nicknamed Wagner. All passengers and crew were killed.
This is what we know about the passengers of the ill-fated flight.
There were three crew members aboard Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Embraer — pilots Alexey Levshin and Rustam Karimov, as well as flight attendant Kristina Raspopova. Baza Telegram channel claims that the woman told her family several hours prior to the takeoff that the flight had been delayed.
The plane also transported seven passengers, reportedly including Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin himself and his right-hand man Dmitry Utkin.
Photo: Dmitry Utkin
Utkin joined the paramilitary group back in 2012, when it was still named the Moran Security Group. His previous military experience includes working in Spetsnaz, a Russian special-forces unit, and fighting in both Chechen Wars. With the Moran Security Group, Utkin travelled to Syria in 2013 where he commanded a company of soldiers. In early 2014, he was likely introduced to Prigozhin. In 2016, he was already receiving his fourth Order of Courage.
In 2017, Utkin became the head of the notorious Concord Management and Consulting, Prigozhin’s main official business. However, Yevgeny Prigozhin himself succeeded him in this post in 2018.
Utkin was in charge of the Wagner Group’s command and military training. His orders were signed with two lightning bolts similar to the Nazi SS insignia, the Dossier Centre writes.
The other five passengers of the flight were linked to Prigozhin’s business ventures, fought in his paramilitary group, or guarded their boss on his trips. Their names are Sergey Propustin, Yevgeny Makaryan, Alexander Totmin, Valery Chekalov, and Nikolay Matuseev.
The Dossier Centre reports that 44-year-old Sergey Propustin fought in the Second Chechen War and rose to the rank of warrant officer. He joined the Wagner Group in March 2015. Starting from May 2023, Propustin was accompanying Prigozhin on his “secret” trips to Russian regions where the Wagner boss was meeting local journalists to speak with them.
The deceased man was captured on photos taken at one such meeting in Novosibirsk. The photos show Propustin walking behind his chief dressed in all black, including a black cap pulled all the way down.
Sergey Propustin (in black cap). Photo: VN.ru
The man’s Wagner post was reported to be scout and grenade launcher operator.
Valery Chekalov, call sign Rover, another Prigozhin’s close associate, was also on board the flight that crashed in the Tver region. A source told the Agency that Chekalov could have been with Prigozhin on the jet even before the Russian officials published the list of passengers. The 47-year-old logistics expert was extremely close to Prigozhin as a Concord manager.
The Dossier Centre writes that Chekalov worked with the Wagner boss since the 2000s, then helped Prigozhin with food-related operations that Concord is famous for — starting with school meals and then moving to the military provisions under Russian army contracts.
Fontanka reported in 2017 that it was Chekalov who helped Prigozhin run operations in Syria where Wagner fighters were stationed. Until 2022, Chekalov headed Neva JSC, a company that signed a memorandum with the Syrian government in 2017: the firm linked to Prigozhin was to liberate occupied oil and gas fields as well as other energy-related infrastructure facilities and then guard them. The contract was signed for five years and expired in 2022 when Chekalov left Neva.
Valery Chekalov. Photo: OK.ru / Dossier Centre
Chekalov was reported to be Prigozhin’s head of security and his “Wagner Group deputy”.
Alexander Totmin, 30, is also on the dead passenger list. He was likely taking part in Wagner’s Sudan operations. His friend, Artyom Ryabinin, was killed in Syria.
Another deceased passenger, Nikolay Matusevich, also likely fought in Sudan. In the official list of passengers, he is specified as Matuseev, but the Dossier Centre failed to find a person with this surname in the Wagner Group member lists. Matusevich, on the other hand, was reported to have fought in Sudan. The Dossier Centre noted that the man was a gunner in the fourth assault unit in Syria.
The last man on the list of passengers is 38-year-old Yevgeny Makaryan who was also a Wagner mercenary. Makaryan served in the police force before joining the paramilitary group. The Dossier Centre claims that he joined the Wagner Group in March 2016 and was also a member of the fourth assault unit in Syria. He reportedly was caught in a US army shelling near Khasham in January 2017, leaving him with a left thigh injury.
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