Forensic tests prove Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin died in a plane crash, Russian officials say

  • Russia's Investigative Committee said it had confirmed the death of Yevgeny Prigozhin.

  • The founder of the mercenary group Wagner was on board a plane crash that crashed on Wednesday.

  • The statement did not offer any explanation as to why the plane had crashed.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of Russian mercenary group Wagner and the leader of a failed coup against Vladimir Putin, has been confirmed dead following a plane crash this week.

Russia's Investigative Committee said Sunday forensic testing identified Prigozhin as among 10 people killed when the Embraer Legacy 600 jet they were on went down in the Tver region near Moscow on Wednesday.

Committee spokesperson Svetlana Petrenko said in a statement that the findings "conform to the manifest" of the plane. The statement didn't offer any clues as to why the plane crashed.

The statement confirmed Prigozhin's suspected death in the crash. Russia's civil aviation authority had said the Wagner leader was on the passenger manifest alongside some of his top lieutenants.

Prigozhin died just two months after he led a failed mutiny against Putin and Russia's army. It was seen as the biggest challenge to Putin's chokehold on power in his 23 years in Government.

Prigozhin and Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Yevgeny Prigozhin in 2010.Alexey Druzhinin/AFP/Getty Images

The coup was abandoned shortly after it began, and Prigozhin cut a deal with Putin that would see him avoid any charges for his role in the revolt. He disappeared from public view soon after, and appeared to be spotted at a military camp in Belarus in July.

A source close to Putin told Meduza that Prigozhin was in Moscow to meet with officials about his catering business, Concord Catering. However, Kremlin sources told Meduza they were baffled that Prigozhin would take such a risk so soon after his failed uprising.

There has been widespread speculation as to why Prigozhin's plane crashed. The Kremlin has not commented on the crash and Russian propagandists have blamed it on Ukraine.

However, there's a general belief in the West that Putin ordered Prigozhin's death. Former MI6 chief John Sawers told the BBC that a bomb may have been placed on board the plane.

Read the original article on Business Insider