Yevgeny Prigozhin mysteriously died when his plane was shot down over Russia

Yevgeny Prigozhin mysteriously died when his plane was shot down over Russia

08/26/2023

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Over the course of one weekend this past June, Yevgeny Prigozhin came very close to achieving a paramilitary coup of Russia. Allow me to recap: Prigozhin was a Russian caterer turned mercenary chief. Vladimir Putin liked his caterer so much, Putin authorized Prigozhin to form the Wagner Group, a paramilitary force of mostly recently imprisoned mercenaries. Wagner’s sphere of influence grew by leaps and bounds when Putin invaded Ukraine and the Russian military couldn’t handle the invasion or occupation, which is when Putin hired Wagner mercs to fill in the gaps. Allegedly, Prigozhin was angry about the Russian military leaders’ failure to properly plan or help Wagner in Ukraine. Which is when Prigozhin used Wagner to invade Russia. First he “took” Rostov, then Wagner’s forces hauled ass to Moscow over the course of a day, but they stopped short of a full-scale invasion of Moscow.

The whole thing was a huge embarrassment for Putin, even more so because Putin had to call Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko and get Lukashenko to talk some sense into Prigozhin. It worked though – Prigozhin backed off and flew to some undisclosed location, presumably under the temporary protection of Lukashenko. Everyone knew that it was just a matter of time before Prigozhin was accidentally defenestrated or he was handed a cup of tea laced with polonium. Well, funny story:

Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner mercenary group who staged a brief mutiny against Russia’s military leadership in June, was listed as a passenger on a plane that crashed Wednesday, killing all 10 people aboard, according to Russian aviation authorities.

“An investigation of the Embraer plane crash that happened in the Tver Region this evening was initiated,” the Federal Agency for Air Transport of Russia said in a statement, according to the state news agency Tass. “According to the passenger list, first and last name of Yevgeny Prigozhin was included in this list.” But late into the Russian evening, the authorities had not officially confirmed that he had been killed.

The plane left Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport at about 6 p.m. local time, bound for St. Petersburg, and went down less than 100 miles to the northwest, near the city of Tver. In an article about the crash, the Russian state media agency, RIA Novosti, posted an unconfirmed video, widely shared on social media, that purports to show the plane tumbling from the sky, with smoke billowing.

The crash came hours after Russian authorities said that General Sergei Surovikin, a top officer who was seen as an ally of Mr. Prigozhin, had been relieved of his post. Mr. Surovikin and Mr. Prigozhin were seen as among the most ruthlessly effective Russian military leaders, both sidelined in power struggles with officials who had the ear of President Vladimir V. Putin.

[From The NY Times]

A good rule of thumb for future would-be Russian despots: if you have an army of mercenaries and they’re all gassed up and ready to take Moscow, take Moscow. I know I’m not supposed to root for Prigozhin or his lil’ Nazi merc group, but jeez, what poor planning. Surely Prigozhin knew he was a dead man walking as soon as he backed off from a full-scale invasion of Moscow? He blinked, and so now he sleeps with the fishes.

When they asked President Biden if he believed Putin was behind Prigozhin’s assassination, Biden said: “There’s not much that happens in Russia that Putin’s not behind. But I don’t know enough to know the answer.” In case you’re wondering, the Russian military fully shot down Prigozhin’s plane. There’s a video. Although it’s also possible that Prigozhin faked his death and is now living it up in Argentina.

Pretty clear message from Putin. pic.twitter.com/DAOcz16yr4

— Concerned Citizen (@BGatesIsaPyscho) August 23, 2023

A second plane owned by Prigozhin just landed at the Ostafyevo airport near Moscow.

Wagner supporters are hoping that Prigozhin cheated death by boarding that plane instead.

pic.twitter.com/P8D1kRzmns

— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) August 23, 2023

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Photos courtesy of Getty.

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