Genetic Testing Confirms Wagner Leader Died In Plane Crash, Russia Says

Genetic testing confirms Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin died in a plane crash last week, Russian officials said on Sunday.

Prigozhin’s demise comes two months after he led a brief uprising against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Russian Investigative Committee said Prigozhin was found to be one of several passengers who perished when a private jet crashed in the Tver Region north of Moscow on Wednesday, according to Russia’s state-run TASS.

“As part of the investigation into the plane crash in the Tver Region, molecular genetic examinations have been completed,” the committee said.

“According to their results, the identities of all 10 victims have been established,” the committee added. “They correspond to the list stated in the flight manifest.”

Dmitry Utkin, a top commander of the mercenary group, was also listed as a passenger.

The aircraft was traveling from Moscow to St. Petersburg, according to TASS.

A criminal investigation is looking into the possibility of flight safety rules being violated, the report added.

The Department of Defense’s initial assessment similarly determined that Prigozhin died in the crash, Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said on Thursday. The U.S. military assessed that reports indicating a surface-to-air missile took down the plane were inaccurate, he added.

ABC News reported that U.S. officials suspect the incident was caused by a bomb explosion onboard.

On Friday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov pushed back on “speculation” from the West surrounding the crash. “All of that is sheer lies,” Peskov said

Prigozhin, 62, was once seen as an ally of Putin whose mercenaries acted in Russia’s interests in places such as Africa and the Middle East, according to The Washington Post.

But the ties between Prigozhin and Putin appeared to fray in the midst of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which reached 500 days in July.

Prigozhin criticized the Russian military’s handling of the conflict, accusing generals of denying his forces supplies in the fight, per The New York Times.

In an uprising that lasted roughly 24 hours, Wagner troops began a march toward Moscow in late June. Although Prigozhin and his mercenaries appeared to be exiled to Belarus as part of a deal to end the rebellion, the Wagner leader was spotted in Russia a month later.

After the plane crash last week, Putin said Prigozhin was a “talented man” who made “serious mistakes in life,” CNN reported.

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