UPDATE 3 - Wagner head Prigozhin killed in private jet crash in Russia's Tver region

UPDATE 3 - Wagner head Prigozhin killed in private jet crash in Russia's Tver region

Wagner co-founder Dmitry Utkin also among confirmed among passengers in crash that kills all 10 onboard


By Burc Eruygur and Alperen Aktas

ISTANBUL (AA) - Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner paramilitary group, was confirmed late Wednesday to be onboard a private jet that crashed in Russia's northwestern Tver region, killing all 10 passengers.

A statement by the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency listed 10 names, three of which are crew members, who boarded the Embraer plane. Also included was Wagner co-founder Dmitry Utkin.

"The flight of the Embraer-135 (EBM-135BJ) aircraft was carried out on the basis of a permit for the use of airspace, issued in accordance with the established procedure," it said.

The agency initially announced that a specially created commission began an investigation and indicated that there were seven passengers and three crew members onboard the aircraft belonging to MNT-Aero LLC that 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 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 said on Telegram that it initiated a criminal case on grounds of the "violation of traffic safety rules and operation of air transport."

A report by state news agency, RIA, quoting a source from emergency services, said eight bodies were found at the crash site.

"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,'” Ukraine presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak wrote on X, while commenting on the crash. "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."

Prigozhin made headlines in June when he launched an “armed rebellion” against the Russian leadership before quickly aborting.

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