Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the Wagner Group, a private
army in Russia, has reportedly died in a plane crash in the country.
Nine other people reported to be on board the aircraft are
also part of the casualties.
According to TASS, Russian state-owned news media, the
country’s agency for air transport said Prigozhin was included in the list of
passengers of the flight which crashed on Wednesday.
“An investigation of the Embraer plane crash that happened
in the Tver Region this evening was initiated. According to the passenger list,
first and last name of Yevgeny Prigozhin was included in this list,” TASS
quoted the agency as saying.
The plane which had been in flight for less than 30 minutes
reportedly caught fire after crashing.
TASS, while quoting emergency services, added that four
bodies have been found so far.
SOLDIER WHO REBELLED AGAINST PUTIN
On June 24, Prigozhin mobilised his troops against the
country’s military and President Vladmir Putin.
Prigozhin said his fighters had crossed the border from
Ukraine into Russia and would destroy anyone in their way, including roadblocks
Wagner, established in 2014, had been fighting alongside the
Russian army in Ukraine.
But things took a different turn when Prigozhin accused
Russian army of attacking a Wagner camp and killing a “huge amount” of his men.
He promised to take revenge and “stop the evil brought by
the military leadership of the country”.
Putin described the mutiny as a “stab in the back” and vowed
that anyone involved in the “armed mutiny” would face consequences as traitors
of the state.
The Russian leader added that all relevant orders had been
given to the military to take “brutal” actions in eliminating the threat that
the Wagner group had become.
The mutiny was described as the greatest threat to Putin’s
rule since he became Russia’s president in 1999.
In a turn of events, Prigozhin asked his troops to stand
down from the insurrection. Dmitry Peskov, presidential spokesperson, said an
agreement brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko was struck with
the Wagner leader which would see the mercenary move to Belarus in exile.
Weeks after confirming Prigozhin’s “arrival”, Lukashenko
said the Wagner boss was still in Russia, and had met with Putin who reportedly
promised to re-employ the mutinous soldiers.
The mercenary leader’s whereabouts had been unclear
following his rebellious stint until the news of the plane crash broke.
His last reported location appeared to be in Africa, when he
posted his first video address since his uprising in Russia.
Prigozhin said Wagner was recruiting people, adding that the
group would fulfil its commitments of setting Africa free.
Russia had condemned the military intervention proposal by
the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to restore democratic
rule in Niger Republic following the coup, and backed dialogue instead.
However, the Wagner leader had hailed the coup leaders and
applauded the people of Niger for taking their destiny into their hands.
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