Yevgeny Prigozhin was a Russian businessman, politician, and leader of the infamous Wagner PMC. He was a popular chef in St Petersburg, in the 1990s before becoming the powerful and influential man he was.
On Wednesday, August 23, a private Embraer Legacy 600 jet with 10 people on board, crashed while en route from Moscow to St Petersburg. All the 10 people on board died, and among them is Yevgeny Prigozhin. According to Russian media sources, the crash happened near the village of Kuzhenkino in the north-western Tver Region. The tragedy was captured in videos shot from the ground.
The incident sends shockwaves across the Russian Federation. It was an unfortunate incident to most Russians, but undoubtedly, a fortunate incident to many others including Ukrainians, anti-war Russians, and sympathizers of Ukraine.
Following Prigozhin’s death, a lot of speculations have been making rounds on both traditional and social media platforms. Some people believe the former Wagner boss’ plane was shot down or sabotaged by his own countrymen. Others too think the plane was either sabotaged or shot down by Prigozhin’s non-Russian adversaries. A third group believe the crash was as a result of an accident.
Meanwhile, locals who witnessed the plane crash, revealed they heard one or two explosions prior to the coming down of the plane. TimeGist.com could not independently verify these claims.
But the most important question now is, who killed Yevgeny Prigozhin? It is a popular question in the minds of many at the moment. In this article, however, we’ve answered the question with an in-depth analysis.
So Who killed Yevgeny Prigozhin?
The Wagner group which Prigozhin led until his death, was actively involved in Russia’s so called “Special Military Operation” in neighbouring Ukraine. In fact, the group is noted for its months-long battle for Bakhmut, a city in eastern Ukraine. According to the group’s leader who is now deceased, the battle claimed the lives of some 20,000 Wagner mercenaries. The Ukrainian side also suffered huge losses, and unfortunately for them, Bakhmut fell to the Wagner forces on May 20. However, Ukrainian officials, including their president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, denied this.
The Wagner group’s involvement in the current war and that of the 2014 annexation of Crimea by Russia, made Prigozhin a ‘high-value’ target for Ukrainian security establishments. He was a man whose death millions of Ukrainians wanted.
In an interview a few months ago, the second in command of Ukrainian military intelligence, Vadym Skibitsky, admitted that the Wagner PMC boss was on his country’s hit list together with other prominent individuals, including president Vladmir Putin and Defence Minister, Sergei Shoigu.
When asked about Kyiv’s ‘relationship’ with Prigozhin, Skibitsky bluntly replied, “We’re trying to kill him.” He further added; “Of course, Prigozhin, as one of the important actors in this war, must be eliminated.”
So, we can mark arguments that suggest Ukraine to be behind Prigozhin’s plane crash, as valid. But we are not confirming this as investigations into the crash have not been concluded.
Furthermore, Wagner mercenaries, on the orders of Prigozhin, staged an armed rebellion against Russia’s military leadership. This happened on June 23, exactly two months before the businessman’s death. It followed months of increased tensions between the Wagner boss and Defence Minister Shoigu.
According to many Western analysts, the rebellion was a direct challenge to President Putin’s authority.
Putin, in a televised address to the nation, described Wagner’s action as a “…stab in the back of our country and our people.” He then accused them of treason and betrayal of their motherland, and vowed to punish those involved.
Meanwhile, in a Russian documentary that aired in mid March 2018, Putin admitted that he does not forgive people that he accused of betrayal. When asked in the documentary if he forgives, the Russian leader replied; “Yes, but not everything.” When the journalist further asked him what he finds impossible to forgive, Putin answered “betrayal”.
Journalist: “Are you able to forgive?”
Putin: “Yes, but not everything.”
Journalist: “What is impossible to forgive?”
— Lord Bebo (@MyLordBebo) August 23, 2023
So, could it be that Prigozhin has paid the price for ‘betraying’ his motherland? Only time will tell.
Was Yevgeny Prigozhin plane crash an accident?
The plane crash is currently under investigations. Until that is done, no one would be able to authoritatively point out what exactly caused the crash.
However, if claims that explosions were heard prior to the crash, are proven to be true, then it could be that the plane was sabotaged with explosives or shot down with a missile. In this case, accident, as a cause of the crash, will be ruled out.