October 5, 2023

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian authorities on Sunday confirmed the demise of Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, placing to relaxation any doubts about whether or not the wily mercenary chief turned mutineer was on a aircraft that crashed Wednesday, killing everybody on board.

Genetic testing on the ten our bodies recovered on the crash website “conform to the manifest ” for the flight, Russian Investigative Committee spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko stated in a press release. Russia’s civil aviation authority had stated Prigozhin and a few of his prime lieutenants have been on the listing of seven passengers and three crew members.

The Investigative Committee didn’t point out what might need brought about the enterprise jet to plummet from the sky midway between Moscow and St. Petersburg, Prigozhin’s hometown.

However the crash’s timing raised suspicions of a doable Kremlin-orchestrated hit, whereas Prigozhin’s chameleon-like background allowed for hypothesis that he wasn’t on the aircraft or had in some way escaped demise.

Two months in the past, Prigozhin, 62, mounted a daylong mutiny in opposition to Russia’s navy, main his mercenaries from Ukraine towards Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin decried the act as “treason” and vowed punishment for these concerned.

As a substitute, the Kremlin rapidly reduce a cope with Prigozhin to finish the armed revolt, saying he could be allowed to stroll free with out going through any prices and to resettle in Belarus. Questions remained about whether or not the previous ally of Russia’s chief would face a comeuppance for the transient rebellion that posed the most important problem to Putin’s authority of his 23-year rule.

A preliminary U.S. intelligence evaluation concluded that an intentional explosion brought about the aircraft to go down. As suspicions grew that the Russian president was the architect of an assassination, the Kremlin rejected them as a “full lie.”

One of many Western officers who described the preliminary evaluation stated it decided that Prigozhin was “very probably” focused and that an explosion could be according to Putin’s “lengthy historical past of attempting to silence his critics.”

Prigozhin’s second-in-command, Dmitry Utkin, in addition to Wagner logistics mastermind Valery Chekalov, additionally have been killed within the crash. Utkin was lengthy believed to have based Wagner and baptized the group together with his nom de guerre.

The destiny of Wagner, which till just lately performed a distinguished function in Russia’s navy marketing campaign in Ukraine and was concerned in quite a lot of African and Center Japanese nations, is unsure.

After the mutiny, the Kremlin stated Prigozhin could be exiled in Belarus, and his fighters have been supplied three choices: to observe him there, retire or enlist in Russia’s common military and return to Ukraine, the place Wagner mercenaries had fought alongside Russian troops.

A number of thousand Wagner mercenaries opted to maneuver to Belarus, the place a camp was erected for them southeast of the capital, Minsk.