Photo: the crashed Embraer Legacy jet/social media
An Embraer Legacy jet belonging to Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin crashed in Russia’s Tver region Wednesday evening, killing all ten people on board.
Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency published the full list of passengers and crew, which included Prigozhin, Wagner Group commander Dmitry Utkin, the head of Wagner’s security force Valery Chekalov, and three more mercenaries.
Experts with the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) believe that Putin “almost certainly” ordered Prigozhin’s death.
Here’s what we know so far about Prigozhin’s presumed death.
10 bodies retrieved from crash site in Tver region
News agency Interfax reports citing emergency services that the search operation at the crash site has been completed. Rescuers found the remains of all ten people who were on board.
Baza Telegram channel wrote that all the bodies have been severely burned and will require a DNA test to identify. Baza also claimed that one of the bodies had a severed head and another had a badly crushed face.
Flightradar24 publishes report on flight of Prigozhin’s jet
According to the air traffic tracker, the aircraft began transmitting data at 14:46 UTC and continued doing so for 34 minutes.
The Embraer’s vertical rate in feet per minute. Photo: Flightradar24
“Even though the aircraft was not transmitting position information, other data like altitude, speed, vertical rate, and autopilot settings were broadcast. It is this data that provides some insight into the final moments of the flight,” the report noted.
At 15:10 UTC, the plane levelled off at 28,000 feet and continued its flight for nine minutes, after which the report registered a dramatic decrease in the vertical rate. The final data was received at 15:20:14 UTC at an altitude of 19,725 feet.
ISW: Putin ‘almost certainly’ ordered shootdown of Prigozhin’s jet
The Institute for the Study of War believes that Vladimir Putin “almost certainly” ordered Russian military command to shoot down the jet of Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin.
The ISW considers it very unlikely that elements of the Russian military, especially Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu and General Valery Gerasimov, would execute Prigozhin without Putin’s order.
“The entirety of the Russian political and security sphere likely viewed Prigozhin’s continued survival following Wagner’s rebellion as at Putin’s discretion,” the Institute’s briefing reads.
CNN: Biden administration expected attempt on Prigozhin’s life after failed mutiny
US President Joe Biden suggested Wednesday that the Russian President Vladimir Putin may be behind the crash of Prigozhin’s jet.
“I don’t know for a fact what happened, but I’m not surprised. ... Not much happens in Russia that Putin is not behind but I don’t know enough to know the answer,” CNN quoted Biden as saying.
Top US administration officials, including CIA Director Bill Burns, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and the President himself, have repeatedly expressed concern that the Kremlin could assassinate Prigozhin after the failed rebellion of his Wagner Group in June.
An unnamed US official told CNN that “Putin has a very long history of silencing his critics”.
Political scientist Ian Bremmer told the BBC’s Russian Service that the incident showed just how calculating Vladimir Putin is, explaining that he did not hurry to exact his revenge, instead waiting for the moment when Prigozhin was at his weakest.
Flowers, candles in Prigozhin tribute at Wagner office in St. Petersburg
After the news of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s presumed death, people in St. Petersburg began bringing flowers, candles, and Wagner chevron patches near the entrance to the building which formerly housed Prigozhin’s office.
People also unfurled a large banner with the words “Wagner Group. We are together”. The building itself had its windows lit up to make a cross.
A similar makeshift memorial appeared in front of the Patriot coffeehouse, which has been linked to Prigozhin and was also the site of the assassination of pro-war blogger Vladlen Tatarsky in April.