Russia’s ministry for emergency situation announces crash of a private plane travelling between Moscow and St Petersburg saying Wagner chief Prigozhin was on the passenger list.
Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin was listed as a passenger on a private jet that crashed north of Moscow, killing all 10 people, the Russian authorities said.
It remains to be confirmed if the Wagner chief had actually boarded the flight.
Since the rebellion by Wagner forces in June, Prigozhin was seen as the biggest challenge to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s authority since he came to power.
Here is how the world reacted to the crash and the reported death of Prigozhin:
President Joe Biden says he was “not surprised” at news that Prigozhin may have died in a plane crash in Russia.
“I don’t know for a fact what happened, but I’m not surprised,” Biden said, adding, “There’s not much that happens in Russia that Putin’s not behind. But I don’t know enough to know the answer.”
In a statement, US National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson also said that “If confirmed, no one should be surprised,” by the apparent death. “The disastrous war in Ukraine led to a private army marching on Moscow, and now — it would seem — to this.”
Presidential aide Mykhaylo Podolyak wrote on social media the crash of the plane was a signal from the Kremlin to anyone who showed disloyalty.
“The demonstrative elimination of Prigozhin and the Wagner command two months after the coup attempt is a signal from Putin to Russia’s elites ahead of the 2024 elections. ‘Beware! Disloyalty equals death’”, Podolyak wrote.
About Prigozhin: It is worth waiting for the fog of war to disappear… Meanwhile, it is obvious that Putin does not forgive anyone for his own bestial terror. Exactly the one that nullified him in June 2023. And he was waiting for the moment. It is also obvious that Prigozhin…
— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) August 23, 2023
Estonia Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, in an interview with CNN, said Putin will “eliminate opponents and that scares anyone who is thinking of expressing opinion different than his”.
Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau, on state news channel TVP Info, said that those who threatened Putin’s power do not “die naturally”.
“We would have great trouble naming anyone who would intuitively think this was a coincidence. It so happens that political opponents whom Vladimir Putin considers a threat to his power do not die naturally.”
The speed at which the Russian Govt has confirmed Yevgeny Prigozhin was on a plane that crashed on a flight from Moscow to St Petersburg should tell us everything we need to know.
Reports Russian Air Defence shot down the plane suggests Putin is sending a very loud message.
— Alicia Kearns MP (@aliciakearns) August 23, 2023