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Genetics test ‘shows Wagner boss died in plane crash’

Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin has been confirmed dead by Russia after a plane he was travelling in crashed north of Moscow.

Following what it described as genetic examinations, Russia’s investigative committee confirmed 10 people named by its aviation board as being on the crashed jet had died.

“As part of the criminal investigation of the plane crash in the Tver region, molecular genetic examinations have been completed,” a statement read.

Read more: President Zelenskyy leads tributes to three pilots killed in collision – Ukraine latest

“According to their results, the identities of all 10 dead were established, they correspond to the list stated in the flight sheet.”

This included mercenary leader Prigozhin and his right-hand man, Dmitry Utkin, Russia’s civil authority said shortly after the crash on Wednesday.

It has not shared any details of the test, and confirmation of the 62-year-old’s death has not been independently verified.

More on Ukraine

Prigozhin founded the Wagner private military company whose fighters have been the most effective for Russia in its war on Ukraine.

Sky’s military analyst Sean Bell said: “It’s widely believed that the Kremlin was responsible for down the aircraft, and therefore we have to be a little bit sceptical about the process that’s being followed here, because it does look rather look as if the conclusion has been written before they’ve actually done the investigation.

“President Putin would look incredibly weak if Prigozhin ever turned up anywhere wearing a wig on a Caribbean island. It would completely undermine him.

“So it’s no great surprise that Putin has moved to try to put proof on the table that Yevgeny Prigozhin is no longer a threat. Putin has dealt with him summarily and put that put the proof out in the media.”

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Moment Russian jet crashes near Moscow

Read more:
Putin was careful not to make Prigozhin a martyr – but his legacy will live on | Analysis
Putin raised up Prigozhin up and now seems to have destroyed him
Wagner likely to mutate and morph, but will once again be compliant to Putin’s will

The crash happened months after he led a short-lived mutiny against Russia’s top military brass in June.

Russian President Vladimir Putin – who Prigozhin was once a close confidant of – described him as a “traitor” after the failed mutiny.

He had become been a vocal critic of Russia’s defence ministry and top generals in their handling of the invasion in recent months.

The rebellion ended when Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko stepped in to broker a deal, with Prigozhin agreeing to relocate to Belarus.

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Who could become the new Wagner boss?

What happened?

A private Embraer Legacy aircraft was travelling from Moscow to St Petersburg when it crashed.

Russian authorities said there were no survivors.

Russian state-owned TASS news agency reported seven passengers and three crew were on board the Embraer aircraft and were all killed.

According to Reuters, there are reports they were attending a meeting with officials from Russia’s defence ministry.

A Telegram channel affiliated with the Wagner Group has said Prigozhin was killed in the plane crash. It called him a hero and a patriot who had died at the hands of unidentified people described as “traitors to Russia”.

The plane came down near the village of Kuzhenkino Tver.

Western analysts and commentators have largely suggested President Putin could have ordered the killing of Prigozhin, though no evidence has been presented.

Speaking on Friday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said such suggestions were “an absolute lie”, before adding his boss’ “busy schedule” may prevent him from attending the funeral.

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