Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin has been confirmed dead after genetic analysis of bodies found in Wednesday’s plane crash, Russian officials have said.
Russia’s Investigative Committee said the identities of all 10 victims had been established and corresponded to those on the flight’s passenger list.
‘As part of the investigation of the plane crash in the Tver region, molecular-genetic examinations have been completed,’ Svetlana Petrenko, a spokesperson for the committee, said in a statement via Telegram on Sunday.
‘According to their results, the identities of all 10 dead were established. They correspond to the list stated in the flight sheet’.
Further details on the tests have not been shared.
Prigozhin’s private jet came down north-west of Moscow on 25 August, killing all those on board.
Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin has been confirmed dead after genetic analysis of bodies found in Wednesday’s plane crash, Russian officials have said
A Telegram channel affiliated with Wagner said on Wednesday that its leader had died in a plane crash at the hands of unidentified ‘traitors to Russia.’
Reports stated that a private Embraer Legacy place crashed while on its way from Moscow to St Petersburg, killing all seven passengers and three crew members onboard.
The passengers, made up of the Wagner group’s top brass, including Prigozhin’s right-hand man Dmitry Utkin and Valeriy Chekalov, Wagner’s logistics mastermind, were reportedly attending a meeting with officials from Russia’s defence ministry.
Russia’s Vladimir Putin spoke of his former ally in the past tense just one day after he died and before Russian officials investigated his death, saying: ‘This was a person with a complicated fate. He made some serious mistakes in life, but he also achieved necessary results.’
The Kremlin has denied speculation it was to blame for the crash, which came just two months after Prigozhin led a column of his Wagner soldiers towards Moscow in an attempted mutiny against Vladimir Putin.
Wagner managed to seize the city of Rostov-on-Don during the shock coup and threatened to take Moscow itself over.
Prigozhin and his mercenary group were sent to Belarus after a deal was reached, which was brokered by Belarus’ president Alexander Lukashenko, that allowed him to walk away without any charges against his name.
Prigozhin kept a low profile after this, but was spotted in several locations across the world.
Researchers from All Eyes on Wagner, which monitors the mercenary group, said that a video shared via Telegram on August 21, just two days before Prigozhin died, revealed he was in Mali.
He was seen wearing military fatigues and wielding an assault rifle, claiming he was in the region to recruit ‘heroic warriors’ that would make Russia ‘even greater.’
Despite the brokered deal, Putin openly called the mutiny a ‘stab in the back’, and experts across the world have accused the autocrat of engineering the crash.
On Friday Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that such allegations were an ‘absolute lie’.
Peskov declined to comment on whether Putin would attend Prigozhin’s funeral, simply stating: ‘The only thing I can say is that the president has a rather busy schedule at the moment.’
The fate of the Wagner group is not currently known, and many interested groups are speculating over what will happen to the private military company, set up in 2014.
Putin forced Wagner fighters to swear an oath of allegiance to Russia just a few day after reports of their leader’s death had emerged.
The wording of the oath includes a line forcing oath-takers to strictly follow the orders of commanders and senior Russian leaders.
More to follow.