What’s happening? Russian President Vladimir Putin has praised mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin as a talented businessman and said he wished to express sincere condolences to the families of those who died in a plane crash.
Putin broke his silence on Thursday evening following a crash the day before 185 miles north of Moscow in which Prigozhin was reportedly killed.
Putin added in televised comments that it was necessary to await the outcome of the official investigation into the crash, in which all 10 people on board were killed, saying the examination would take some time.
Shrouded in secrecy for may years, the Wagner private military group is renowned for its brutality. It's apparent ties to the Russian state had long been officially denied, but its direct links burst into the global spotlight following its involvement in the Ukraine invasion.
Prigozhin's presumed death has not come as a surprise to many after he angered Russian president Vladimir Putin when he mounted a short-lived and unsuccessful mutiny against Russia’s military leadership in June.
Here, Yahoo News UK rounds up what various people have said about the 'death' of Prigozhin…
British security services
Sources in the British security services reportedly believe the shooting down of the plane was carried out by Russia’s security service, the FSB – on the orders of Putin.
A source told The Telegraph that Putin functions on “the consequences of betrayal”, while another said the “mood music… points to the FSB” as they remain loyal to Putin.
Watch: Wagner leader Prigozhin was on crashed plane, Russian agency says
Sir Richard Dearlove
Former head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove, said Prigozhin’s death was “unsurprising”, and that Russia will attempt to present the crash as an accident.
He added: “Everyone in the West will come to the same conclusion – that this is Putin’s revenge on people who challenge his power base.
“We used to have a saying when I worked on the Soviet Union, which was that the wise line to take on Soviet Russia was that nothing happened by accident, and one might apply that to this event.”
General Lord Richard Dannatt
The former head of the British Army, General Lord Richard Dannatt, said the crash was “probably“ the work of Putin.
He told Sky News: “I think it is probably most likely that even if it wasn’t ordered by Putin directly that it was by someone who knows what Putin would have wished and has ensured the elimination of Prigozhin has happened.
“I think on the balance of probabilities say that this is Putin’s doing.”
He suggested the situation could “divide” Russia as some people opposed the mutiny while others would have thought of Prigozhin as a hero.
Dannatt added that Putin has shown “he is in charge and a tough man and he has eliminated one of his opponents” but it causes “a split in Russian society”.
Senior Tory MP
Alicia Kearns, the Conservative chair of the Commons Foreign Affairs committee, suggested the speed at which Russian authorities confirmed Prigozhin was on the plane “should tell us everything we need to know”.
But she also suggested that if Prigozhin was still alive, he would not necessarily make that known.
In a post on Twitter, now known as X, she wrote: “A second plane owned by Prigozhin has landed at Ostafyevo airport near Moscow.
“Questions now whether Prigozhin was on the first plane, as the manifest stated, or on this second jet.
“If you were him and you’d boarded the second plane, would you let anyone know you’d survived?”
Kearns said Prigozhin’s failed coup against Putin meant he became a target and his death would end “Putin’s humiliation”.
US president Joe Biden said he was “not surprised” at Prigozhin’s reported death.
The White House said Biden had been briefed on the crash and he told reporters he did not know for a fact what had happened.
He said: "I’m not surprised.
"There is not much that happens in Russia that Putin is not behind, but I don’t know enough to know the answer."
The Wagner-linked Telegram channel, Grey Zone, seemingly confirmed the death of the “hero of Russia” Prigozhin.
A post on the channel read: "The head of the Wagner Group, a Hero of Russia, a true patriot of his Motherland – Yevgeny 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!"
Anton Gerashchenko, the advisor to the minister of internal affairs of Ukraine, claimed that Wagner mercenaries are “going to take revenge“ on Putin for the death of their leader.
Gerashchenko wrote on X: “Calls for revenge against the killers fill the chat rooms of Prigozhin's channels. Law enforcers of two regions have been raised on alert.”
A video purporting to be from Wagner mercenaries has also since emerged on social media threatening revenge, where they warn: “Get ready for us.”
Keir Giles, a Russia expert with the international affairs think tank Chatham House, 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”.
Giles said it is “unlikely” that the “true cause of the crash” will ever be known as “there is no chance of any investigation that will be either transparent or reliable”.
He added: “Until we know for certain it’s the right Prigozhin, let’s not be surprised if he pops up shortly in a new video from Africa.”