Russia’s investigative committee has confirmed 10 people who were reportedly on board a jet that crashed north of Moscow as “dead” following genetic testing. The list includes Wagner mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin and his right hand man Dmitriy Utkin.
The Embraer Legacy 600 jet, which was en route from Moscow to St Petersburg, crashed in the Tver region on Wednesday (August 23) with 10 people on the passenger list. 10 bodies were recovered from thec crash site, along with flight recorders, before “molecular-genetic” tests were carried out on the remains.
A statement read: “As part of the criminal investigation of the plane crash in the Tver region, molecular genetic examinations have been completed. According to their results, the identities of all 10 dead were established, they correspond to the list stated in the flight sheet.”
It’s worth noting the committee has not shared any details of the test and it has not been independently verified that Prigozhin is dead. The 10 people confirmed as dead by the committee are as follows:
Commander Aleksei Levshin
Co-pilot Rustam Karimov
Flight attendant Kristina Raspopova
Prigozhin, who was once a close confidant of Putin, led an armed revolt by his mercenary fighters in June which was aborted after just 24 hours. Although Putin descrived the mutiny as “treachery” at the time, a deal was quickly struck for Wagner mercenaries to either join Russia’s army or go to Belarus - Moscow’s ally.
The crash prompted speculation that senior Russian leadership was involved. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin has since dismissed claims the Kremlin gave an order to kill Prigozhin as a “complete lie”.
In a television address this week, Putin described Prigozhin as a talented businessman who “made serious mistakes”. He added: “I have known Prigozhin for a long time, since the beginning of the 1990s.
“This was a person with a complicated fate, and he made serious mistakes in life, but also sought to achieve the necessary results - both for himself and at time when I asked him to, for the common cause, such as in these recent months.”
Speaking to Sky News, military analyst Sean Bell said he was speculative about trusting Russia’s investigative board. He said: “The trouble is, is that it’s a Kremlin-sponsored investigation, it’s widely believed that the Kremlin was responsible for downing the aircraft, so we have to be a little bit sceptical about the process that is being followed here.
“It looks as though the conclusion has been written before they have actually done the investigation.”