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Yevgeny Prigozhin was on board the private jet that crashed in the Tver region north of Moscow, the Russian aviation authority has said.
Rosaviatsia posted a list of seven passengers and three crew members, who it said were aboard the plane “according to the airline”.
All 10 bodies have been recovered from the site and the search operation has been completed, authorities said.
The private jet crashed en route from Moscow to St. Petersburg, around 60 miles north of the Russian capital.
Exactly two months ago, Prigozhin led a short mutiny against the Russian military that Vladimir Putin denounced as “treason”.
12:16 AM BST
That's all for this time
We will be back early in the morning to bring you the latest on the jet crash that killed Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner mercenary group.
12:14 AM BST
Embraer reports only one accident previously for plane model in 20 years
The Brazilian Embraer executive jet that crashed in Russia, with Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin believed onboard, has only recorded one accident in over 20 years of service, and that was due to mistakes by the crew rather than mechanical failure, according to website International Aviation HQ.
Russia’s TASS news agency said the plane was a Brazilian Embraer jet.
Embraer on Wednesday said it was aware of a Legacy 600 plane crash in Russia, but that did not have further information about the case.
It also said it has been complying with international sanctions imposed on Russia and had not been providing aftermarket maintenance for the aircraft since 2019.
Flightradar24 online tracker showed that the Embraer Legacy 600 (plane number RA-02795) said to be carrying Prigozhin had dropped off the radar at 6:11pm local time (15:11 GMT). An unverified video on social media showed a plane resembling a private jet falling out of the sky toward the earth.
Under international rules governing air crash investigations, Russia would lead the investigation, but Brazil could participate since the plane was manufactured there, the Brazilian centre for research and prevention of aeronautical accidents (CENIPA) said in a statement.
There had been no communication from Russian authorities to CENIPA about the accident in Russian territory, it said.
12:07 AM BST
Prigozhin 'a walking threat to authorities': analyst
Tatiana Stanovaya, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Centre, said on Twitter that “no matter what caused the plane crash, everyone will see it as an act of vengeance and retribution” by the Kremlin, and “the Kremlin wouldn’t really stand in the way of that”.
“From Putin’s point of view, as well as the security forces and the military — [Yevgeny] Prigozhin’s death must be a lesson to any potential followers,” Ms Stanovaya said in a Telegram post. According to her, after the mutiny, Prigozhin “stopped being the authorities’ partner and could not, under any circumstances, get that status back’’.
“He also wasn’t forgiven,” Ms Stanovaya wrote. “Prigozhin was needed for some time after the mutiny to painlessly complete the dismantling of Wagner in Russia.” But overall, “alive, happy, full-of-strength and full-of-ideas Prigozhin was, definitely, a walking source of threats for the authorities, the embodiment of Putin’s political humiliation.”
Ms Stanovaya doesn’t expect much public outcry over Prigozhin’s death, as those who supported him will be “more scared than inspired to protest” while others would see it as a “deserved outcome’’.
A few thoughts in light of Prigozhin's death.
1️⃣ No matter the cause of the plane crash, everyone will see this as an act of retaliation and retribution, and the Kremlin won't particularly counteract this view. From Putin's perspective, as well as many among the security and…
— Tatiana Stanovaya (@Stanovaya) August 23, 2023
12:01 AM BST
FSB seeks to keep US reporter Evan Gershkovich detained
The Wall Street Journal reported Russian authorities had requested an extension of the pretrial detention of Evan Gershkovich, the Journal reporter held in Russia.
Mr Gershkovich, a 31-year-old US citizen, was detained by agents from the Federal Security Service, or FSB, while on a reporting trip in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg on March 29. He is being held on an allegation of espionage that he, the Journal and the US government vehemently deny the Journal reported.
His pretrial detention was initially set to expire on May 29, but was prolonged to August 30 following an earlier request from the FSB.
On Wednesday, the FSB put forward a request to further extend Mr Gershkovich’s pretrial detention by an unspecified length of time.
Moscow’s Lefortovo District Court will hold a hearing on Thursday to hear the application, according to Russian state media outlet TASS.
“Evan’s wrongful detention is outrageous and we continue to demand his immediate release,” the Journal said in a statement.
11:51 PM BST
Data shows plane's signal stopping soon after Moscow takeoff
Flight tracking data reviewed by The Associated Press showed a private jet that Yevgeny Prigozhin had used previously took off from Moscow on Wednesday evening and its transponder signal disappeared minutes later.
The signal stopped suddenly while the plane was at altitude and travelling at speed. In an image posted by a pro-Wagner social media account showing burning wreckage, a partial tail number matching a jet previously used by Prigozhin could be seen.
Videos shared by the pro-Wagner Telegram channel Grey Zone showed a plane dropping like a stone from a large cloud of smoke, twisting wildly as it falls. Such freefalls can occur when an aircraft sustains severe damage, and a frame-by-frame AP analysis of two videos was consistent with some sort of explosion mid-flight. The images appeared to show the plane is missing a wing.
Russia’s Investigative Committee opened an investigation into the crash on charges of violating air safety rules, as is typical when they open such probes. Interfax, citing emergency officials, reported early Thursday that all 10 bodies had been recovered at the site of the crash and the search operation had ended.
Keir Giles, a Russia expert with the international affairs think-tank Chatham House, had urged caution about reports of Prigozhin’s death. He said “multiple individuals have changed their name to Yevgeniy Prigozhin, as part of his efforts to obfuscate his travels.”
A UK Government spokesperson said: “We are monitoring the situation closely.”
10:24 PM BST
Pictured: Emergency workers search through wreckage
10:06 PM BST
Belarus opposition leader: 'Murderer' Prigozhin 'won't be missed'
The exiled opposition leader of Belarus, where some Wagner fighters moved after their short-lived mutiny in Russia, said that no Belarusian would miss Yevgeny Prigozhin.
“The criminal Prigozhin won’t be missed in Belarus. He was a murderer and should be remembered as such,” said Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.
“His death might dismantle Wagner’s presence in Belarus, reducing the threat to our nation and neighbours.”
10:03 PM BST
Embraer says it was compliant with Russia sanctions
The Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer has said it was compliant with all international sanctions imposed on Russia.
“Embraer has complied with international sanctions imposed on Russia,” a company spokesman said.
Flightradar24 online tracker showed that the Embraer Legacy 600 said to be carrying Prigozhin dropped off the radar at 6.11pm.
The Legacy 600 entered service in 2002, with almost 300 produced until production ceased in 2020.
09:21 PM BST
Prigozhin: hotdog salesman who had Putin to thank for his rise – and fall
Mugger, convict, hotdog salesman, fine dining boss, warlord and the mercenary chief who dared to challenge Vladimir Putin, writes James Crisp.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the 62-year-old owner of the Wagner Group and the cruellest commander of Putin’s illegal war on Ukraine, was all these things before his reported death.
Now he is the centre of a murky story of suspected revenge that brings far fewer surprises than his incredible rise to power from prison to Putin’s orbit.
Prigozhin fell from grace after leading a June mutiny against the Russian president in the midst of his illegal war in Ukraine.
Whether his private jet was shot down over the Tver region north of Moscow or crashed is uncertain.
But few doubt that Putin would take his revenge against a man who became his close ally.
08:52 PM BST
Watch: Moment of crash
08:51 PM BST
Joe Biden: 'I'm not surprised'
Joe Biden has said he is “not surprised” at the news Yevgeny Prigozhin may have died in a plane crash.
“I don’t know for a fact what happened, but I’m not surprised,” he said.
“There’s not much that happens in Russia that Putin’s not behind. But I don’t know enough to know the answer.”
Last month in Helsinki, Mr Biden jokingly warned that Prigozhin should watch his step after his abortive rebellion.
“If I were he, I’d be careful what I ate. I’d keep my eye on my menu,” Mr Biden said.
08:44 PM BST
Crash ‘isn’t an accident’ and has hallmarks of FSB, say UK security sources
British security sources believe that the shooting down of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s private jet was carried out by the FSB intelligence agency on the orders of Vladimir Putin.
“Of course it’s Putin,” one source said. “Putin as a leader cannot afford to be humiliated in the way that he was. Putin functions on two things: loyalty above talent… and the consequence of betrayal.”
Another source said: “All the mood music, all the habits, all the history point to the FSB.”
The source added: “The FSB remains loyal to Putin.”
08:34 PM BST
'Wagner boss was bound to come to a bad end'
Several unnamed officials close to the Kremlin told Russian media that Prigozhin’s death was not unexpected.
”One had a feeling after the mutiny that he would come to a bad end. The Kremlin doesn’t forgive those things,” an official close to the Kremlin told the news website Meduza, adding they were “not surprised” by his death.
08:29 PM BST
Prigozhin is dead, says Wagner-linked Telegram channel
A Telegram channel known to have a close relationship with the Wagner mercenary group has claimed that Yevgeny Prigozhin is dead.
Grey Zone posted: “The head of the Wagner Group, Hero of Russia, a true patriot of his Motherland - Yegeny Viktorovich Prigozhin died as a result of the actions of traitors to Russia.
“But even in Hell he will be the best! Glory to Russia.”
The report has not been independently verified by The Telegraph.
08:25 PM BST
Pictured: Putin attends WW2 commemoration amid reports of Prigozhin's death
08:21 PM BST
'Putin does not forgive'
An adviser to Volodymyr Zelensky has said “Putin does not forgive” amid claims that Yevgeny Prigozhin’s private jet was shot down by Russian air defences.
Mykhailo Podolyak said the Russian president had been “waiting for the moment” to strike after Wagner’s march on Moscow in June.
He continued: “Prigozhin signed a special death warrant for himself the moment he believed in Lukashenko’s bizarre ‘guarantees’ and Putin’s equally absurd ‘word of honor.’”
“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.”
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
08:16 PM BST
Zelensky aide: Prigozhin is on a 'highway to hell'
Andriy Yermak, Volodymyr Zelensky’s chief of staff, has posted AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” on Telegram, in what appears to be a playful nod to reports of Yevgeny Progozhin’s death.
08:11 PM BST
'No signs of missile attack', say Russian bloggers
Russian military bloggers have said the debris that broke away from the plane allegedly owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin shows no evidence of an anti-aircraft missile attack.
Rybar, a Telegram channel with over a million followers, said: “Only one of the pieces has something similar to the consequences of a shrapnel hit, but it can also be cracks.
“For a potential hit by S-300 or Buk missiles, the damage is clearly very small.”
Another channel, Military Informant, said: “There are no traces of an anti-aircraft missile impact on the wreckage of the tail section... which broke away from the fuselage and fell separately.”
Previous reports suggested the plane had been shot down by Russian air defences, but these have not been confirmed. Most of the aircraft seems to have been consumed by a fire.
08:03 PM BST
Putin 'sending a message with plane crash'
Vladimir Putin is “sending a very loud message” after claims that Russia shot down Yevgeny Prigozhin’s private jet, a prominent MP has said.
Alicia Kearns, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said: “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.”
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
07:57 PM BST
'Don't be surprised if Prigozhin is dead', says White House
The death of Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin in a plane crash would not be a surprise given his falling out with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to the White House.
“We have seen the reports” of the crash, National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said, adding: “If confirmed, no one should be surprised.”
07:51 PM BST
The biggest surprise is that Prigozhin survived for so long
Death resolves all problems, Josef Stalin is supposed to have said. No man, no problem, Roland Oliphant writes.
Wednesday’s air crash in the Tver region may have resolved one of the knottiest problems facing Vladimir Putin. In retrospect, the most surprising thing about Yevgeny Prigozhin’s reported death is that he survived for so long.
Ever since he marched an army of disgruntled mercenaries on Moscow in June, Kremlin watchers have been wondering why Putin allowed his former caterer to remain alive - let alone at liberty.
So while in an ordinary air crash it would be far too early to speculate about the causes, few will buy that this was really an accident.
Read the full story here.
07:48 PM BST
'No one knows what's going on,' says Wagner-linked blogger
A Wagner-linked Telegram channel has urged caution after reports that Yevgeny Prigozhin and another founder of the mercenary group were killed.
Grey Zone wrote: “At the moment, it should be borne in mind that NO ONE, except for the people who personally saw Yevgeny Prigozhin and Dmitry Utkin getting on the plane, has any information.
“Not from any sources or other persons. And those who have, they will not say until the situation is clarified.”
07:45 PM BST
Pictured: Crashed plane consumed by flames
07:42 PM BST
Plane crash 'must have happened very quickly'
Whatever caused the plane linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin to crash north of Moscow must have happened “very quickly”, according to reports.
Baza, a Russian Telegram channel close to the security services, said: “The pilots of the crashed plane did not inform the dispatchers about any emergency situations.
“According to experts, this means that the critical situation on board the aircraft developed very quickly.”
07:35 PM BST
Investigators 'already sifting through flight records'
An investigation into the plane crash that reportedly killed Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin has already begun, according to Russian state media.
Ria Novosti reports: “A specially-created commission... has begun collecting factual materials on crew training, the technical condition of the aircraft, the meteorological situation on the flight route, the work of dispatch services and ground radio equipment.
“Specialists will also have to find on-board means of objective control for their subsequent decoding and analysis of the ‘black box’ recordings.”
07:30 PM BST
Biden briefed on private jet crash
US President Joe Biden has been briefed about the crash of a private jet in Russia on Wednesday, the White House says.
07:28 PM BST
Pictures: Smoke rises from plane after it plummets from the sky
07:25 PM BST
Prigozhin and Utkin dead, claims official
A Russian-installed official in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region claims that Yevgeny Prigozhin and Wagner co-founder Dmitry Utkin have been killed.
Vladimir Rogov wrote on Telegram: “Just talked to some outstanding ‘musicians’ [a term for members of the Wagner Group]. They confirm the death of Yevgeny Prigozhin and Dmitry Utkin.
“Kingdom of Heaven to the newly-departed servants of God Yevgeny and Dmitry.”
The Telegraph has not independently verified the report.
07:20 PM BST
Prigozhin 'arrived in Russia from Africa today'
Andrei Zakharov, a Russian investigative journalist, has quoted sources in Wagner saying that Prigozhin arrived in Russia from Africa today with the paramilitary group’s commanders.
Prigozhin hinted heavily that he was in Africa yesterday in a video message that was apparently recorded in a desert.
07:17 PM BST
Russian media: Plane may have belonged to private company
A plane that crashed in the Tver region belonged to a business transportation company called MNT-Aero LLC, according to Russia’s Ria Novosti state news agency.
Previous reports have indicated that it was a private jet owned by Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin. Russia’s federal air transport agency said he was listed as a passenger on the plane.
07:07 PM BST
Reports: Second Prigozhin-owned plane lands near Moscow
A number of Russian military bloggers claim that a second private jet belonging to Yevgeny Prigozhin has landed at an airport near Moscow.
Grey Zone, a Telegram channel with close links to the Wagner Group, said: “Where Yevgeny Prigozhin was himself in the end - at the moment there is no data.”
The report has not been verified by The Telegraph.
07:03 PM BST
Plane belonged Prigozhin, reports AP
The plane that crashed was a private jet belonging to Yevgeny Prigozhin, according to the Associated Press.
07:01 PM BST
'Contract was out on Prigozhin for weeks'
A contract may have been out on Yevgeny Prigozhin for some weeks, according to a former British intelligence officer.
Christopher Steele told Sky News: “We heard some weeks ago from a source that a contract had been put out on Prigozhin in Russia by senior members of the business community.”
He suggested that Vladimir Putin may not have authorised the assassination himself, addingL “It certainly looks as though it may well be a revenge attack by somebody in the elite.”
06:57 PM BST
Who is Yevgeny Prigozhin?
It is not often a catering company tries to overthrow the government of a nuclear super power, writes Roland Oliphant.
“Regarding treason, the president is deeply mistaken,” Yevgeny Prigozhin snarled into a voice note released by his food company’s press service on Saturday morning.
“We are patriots of the motherland…and no one is going to surrender to the demands of the president, the FSB, or anyone else.”
And with that, the man known as Putin’s Chef became Putin’s would-be usurper. It was unthinkable just hours earlier.
But Prigozhin’s path to rebellion has been a long one.
Read the full profile - written in June at the time of Wagner’s coup - here.
06:53 PM BST
Footage of plane plummeting from sky
Breaking. Commander of Wagner mercenaries Prigozhin has been killed tonight after his plane was shot down by Russian air defenses near Moscow.
His group played prominent role in supporting Assad in Syria, from Latakia to DeirEzzor. 100s fighters still deployed there. pic.twitter.com/187ikpH4hZ
— QalaatM (@QalaatM) August 23, 2023
06:49 PM BST
Eight bodies recovered from crash site, say Russian media
Russian news agency Ria Novosti reports that eight bodies have been recovered from the crash site of an Embrear plane in the Tver region.
Previous reports have indicated that there were ten people onboard, including three crew members.
06:44 PM BST
Pictured: First images emerge of plane crash
06:43 PM BST
Plane 'may have been Prigozhin's private jet'
A media monitoring group has suggested that a plane that crashed this evening may have been a private jet owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin.
Belarusian Hajun noted that the registration numbers seen on the wreckage of the plane matched those of the mercenary’s boss’ Embraer Legacy 600 aircraft.
06:39 PM BST
Watch: Prigozhin issued what may have been final video message yesterday
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner boss, yesterday appeared in a video message for the first time since his short-lived rebellion against Russia’s military leaders, Joe Barnes writes.
The mercenary chief was seen standing, with desert terrain as the backdrop, in camouflage and holding a loaded rifle, appearing to recruit guns for hire for the group’s operations in Africa.
“The temperature is plus-50C – everything as we like. The Wagner PMC makes Russia even greater on all continents and Africa – more free,” Prigozhin said in the video.
Read the full story here.
06:33 PM BST
Russian media: Terrorists may have targeted plane
Competing theories have emerged after a plane apparently carrying Yevgeny Prigozhin crash-landed.
Baza, a Russia Telegram channel with links to the security services, said: “According to one verison, a terrorist attack was the cause of the explosion on board the plane.”
Others have suggested that it was shot down by Russian air defences as it headed to St Petersburg.
06:29 PM BST
Wagner source: Prigozhin plane was targeted by Russian air defences
A Wagner-linked Telegram channel has suggested that a plane carrying Yevgeny Prigozhin was shot down by Russian air defences.
Grey Zone, which has a close relationship to the paramilitary group, said: “Before the plane crash, two local residents listened to two bursts of characteristic air defence.
“This is confirmed by contrails in the sky in one of the videos, as well as the words of direct eyewitnesses.”
06:25 PM BST
Aviation authority opens investigation into air crash
Russia’s aviation authority has opened an investigation into the plane crash that reportedly killed mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin.
Rosaviatsia said: “An investigation has been launched into the Embraer plane crash that occurred tonight in the Tver region.
“According to the passenger list, among them is the name and surname of Yevgeny Prigozhin.”
06:23 PM BST
Reports: Another prominent Wagner member killed in crash
Another prominent member of the Wagner Group has also been killed in the plane crash, according to unconfirmed reports.
Russian military bloggers suggested that Dmitry Utkin, a former Russian intelligence officer and co-founder of the group, was also apparently killed.