Putin attended concert as news broke of Prigozhin’s possible death: reports

Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to have been attending a concert as news broke Wednesday of the possible plane crash death of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner mercenary group.

Russian media aired a concert performance in the city of Kursk to mark the 80th anniversary of the victory in the Battle of Kursk — the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany — with Putin appearing in person at the gathering.

“I heartily congratulate all citizens of Russia on this event,” Putin told the crowd while standing onstage in front of an orchestra, in footage now making its way across social media.

He also thanked Russian fighters involved in the country’s war on Ukraine, which Putin refers to as a “special military operation.”

“I thank you for your service and I am proud of you,” he said.

Prigozhin was listed as among the 10 people on board a plane that crashed Wednesday in Tver, about 100 miles northwest of Moscow, according to Russian state media.

Russian emergency authorities are investigating the crash, which happened as the plane was traveling from Moscow to St. Petersburg, according to the news service TASS.

State outlet Russia-24, meanwhile, has reported that eight bodies have been found at the crash site.

The Hill has not confirmed the authenticity of the reports, though White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, that if the reports are found true, “no one should be surprised.”

The White House also said that President Biden has been briefed on the reported plane crash.

The purported death of Prigozhin comes two months after he led a short-lived armed rebellion meant to unseat Moscow’s military leadership.

Prigozhin was exiled to Belarus — in a deal brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in exchange for terrorism charges to be dropped — but Biden administration officials publicly warned that the Wagner chief could still be targeted by Moscow.

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