UPDATE 2 - 10 dead, including Wagner head Prigozhin, in private jet crash in Russia's Tver region: Russia
Yevgeny Prigozhin among passengers in fatal crash, according to Federal Air Transport Agency, cited by TASS news agency
ADDS STATEMENT BY UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER
By Burc Eruygur, Alperen Aktas
ISTANBUL (AA) - Ten people were killed in a private jet crash Wednesday in Russia's northwestern Tver region, according to the Russian aviation agency.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner private military group, was among the passengers, it said.
"The Federal Agency for Air Transport of Russia (Rosaviatsiya) initiated an investigation of the crash of the Embraer plane that happened in the Tver Region,” the agency said in a statement, adding that “Prigozhin was included in the list of passengers of the crashed flight," state news agency TASS reported.
The agency later announced on Telegram that a specially created commission began an investigation, and it indicated that there were seven passengers and three crew members on board the aircraft belonging to MNT-Aero LLC, which it said was traveling from Moscow to St. Petersburg.
It said the commission started at the scene and began collecting "factual materials on the training of the crew, the technical condition of the aircraft, the meteorological situation on the flight route, the work of dispatch services and ground radio equipment."
"At this stage of the investigation, specialists will also have to search for on-board means of objective control for their subsequent decoding and analysis of the black box records," it also said.
The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry said in a Telegram message that the plane crashed near the village of Kuzhenkino killing all 10 people on board, according to preliminary information.
Russia's Investigative Committee also declared on Telegram that it initiated a criminal case on grounds of the "violation of traffic safety rules and operation of air transport."
A later report by state news agency, RIA, quoting a source from emergency services, said eight bodies were found at the crash site.
Dmitry Utkin, a co-founder of the Wagner paramilitary group, is also said to be among those on the plane, according to pro-Wagner Telegram channels.
"The demonstrative elimination of Prigozhin and the Wagner command two months after the coup attempt is a signal from (Russian President Vladimir) Putin to Russia's elites ahead of the 2024 elections. 'Beware! Disloyalty equals death.'
"But it is also a signal to the Russian military: There will be no 'SVO ("special military operation") heroes'. If it isn't a Ukrainian tribunal, it will be an FSB (Russian Federal Security Service) bullet," Mykhailo Podolyak, Ukraine's presidential adviser, claimed on X while commenting on the incident.
Prigozhin made headlines in June when he launched an “armed rebellion” against the Russian leadership before quickly aborting.
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