The leader of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group is presumed to be dead. Yevgeny Prigozhin was one of Vladimir Putin’s most important allies until he led a June rebellion against Moscow’s military leadership. Russian authorities say Prigozhin was listed as a passenger on a flight that crashed en route from Moscow to St Petersburg. All ten people on board the private jet were reportedly killed. A Telegram channel affiliated with Wagner is also saying Prigozhin died in the crash — along with his deputy.
None of these reports however have been independently verified. Since that short-lived rebellion Prigozhin’s whereabouts have been unknown, and his fate has been a subject of intense speculation. It was intitially thought he’d gone to Belarus as part of an amnesty deal, but two days ago he resurfaced in a recruitment video circulated online that appeared to show him in an African country. Wagner maintains a military presence on the continent, and in the video Prigozhin seemed to indicate it was “business as usual” for his mercenary group. Prigozhin’s story is a remarkable one. He rose from being a food vendor to become Vladimir Putin’s personal chef in the Kremlin. His growing power as a mercenary boss became clear during his country’s invasion of Ukraine, until his ultimate clash with the heads of Russia’s military.
Credit | DW News