Kremlin Rejects Involvement in Plane Crash Suspected of Killing Russian Mercenary Leader Prigozhin

by Ethan Kim
assassination suspicions

The Kremlin has refuted claims linking it to the recent plane crash, which is presumed to have resulted in the death of Yevgeny Prigozhin, a prominent mercenary leader. Prigozhin had previously orchestrated a short-lived yet remarkable mutiny within Russia two months ago.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, known for his ruthless fighters that instilled fear across regions like Ukraine, Africa, and Syria, was commemorated by President Vladimir Putin on Thursday. However, suspicions have arisen that the crash, viewed by many as an assassination, might have been orchestrated by the Russian leader himself.

An initial evaluation conducted by U.S. intelligence indicated that the plane was brought down deliberately through an explosion. One of the U.S. and Western officials who disclosed this assessment stated that Prigozhin was “highly likely” targeted, and the explosion aligns with Putin’s “persistent history of silencing his critics.”

These officials, speaking anonymously due to their lack of authorization, refrained from providing specifics about the explosion’s cause. This incident is widely believed to be a form of retaliation for the mutiny in June, which posed a significant challenge to Putin’s enduring rule spanning over two decades.

Despite the mounting suspicions, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has categorically rejected the allegations. In a conference call with reporters, Peskov stated, “At present, there are numerous speculations surrounding this plane crash and the tragic loss of life, including that of Yevgeny Prigozhin. In the West, these speculations are presented from a specific perspective, and all of this is entirely false.”

Prigozhin’s name was listed among the passengers of the ill-fated plane. When asked by The Big Big News about official confirmation of Prigozhin’s demise, Peskov referred to Putin’s earlier remarks, where he mentioned that comprehensive forensic analyses, including genetic testing, were underway. Once official conclusions are reached, they will be disseminated.

The presumed passing of Prigozhin could potentially destabilize his Wagner Group of private military contractors, as indicated by Britain’s Defense Ministry. The ministry noted that Prigozhin’s exceptional audacity and extreme brutality were defining characteristics of the organization, qualities unlikely to be replicated by any successor.

Wagner mercenaries played pivotal roles in Russia’s involvement in the Ukrainian conflict, particularly in the arduous battle for the city of Bakhmut. Additionally, these fighters were instrumental in projecting Russian influence in global hotspots, initially in Africa and subsequently in Syria.

The crash occurred shortly after the jet took off from Moscow en route to St. Petersburg. The aircraft was carrying Prigozhin, six fellow Wagner members, and a crew of three, according to Russia’s civil aviation authority. Ten bodies have been recovered so far, and sources within Wagner, cited anonymously by Russian media, have suggested Prigozhin’s demise. Nevertheless, official confirmation is still pending.

President Joe Biden expressed his belief that Putin might be responsible for the crash. He stated, “While I cannot state it as a fact, I am not surprised. In Russia, very little occurs without Putin’s involvement.”

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov took offense at Biden’s statement, asserting that “it is inappropriate for the U.S. president to comment on such tragic events.”

The passenger manifest included Prigozhin’s second-in-command, Wagner’s logistics chief, and at least one potential bodyguard. The rationale behind having multiple high-ranking Wagner members on the same flight, a departure from their usual security practices, remains unclear. The purpose of their trip to St. Petersburg also remains undisclosed.

Russian authorities have initiated an investigation into the crash. The country’s Investigative Committee reported the recovery of the plane’s flight recorders, with genetic testing being utilized to identify the victims.

In his first public address regarding the crash, Putin acknowledged the passengers’ significant contributions to the conflict in Ukraine. He stated, “We remember this, we are aware, and we shall not forget,” during a televised interview with Denis Pushilin, the leader of Ukraine’s partially occupied Donetsk region.

Numerous adversaries and critics of Putin have met untimely deaths or serious illnesses in suspected assassination attempts. Therefore, many U.S. and Western officials anticipated Putin’s potential targeting of Prigozhin, even after he had promised to drop charges as part of a deal ending the mutiny in late June.

Prigozhin had openly criticized the strategies employed by Russian generals in the Ukrainian conflict, where his mercenaries emerged as some of the fiercest fighters aligned with the Kremlin. Initially, Putin appeared to tolerate such internal discord, but Prigozhin’s short-lived rebellion escalated the situation.

On June 23, Prigozhin’s mercenaries seized control of the military headquarters in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don without firing a shot. They subsequently advanced to within approximately 200 kilometers (125 miles) of Moscow, downing several military aircraft and causing the deaths of more than a dozen Russian pilots.

Although Putin initially denounced the mutiny as “treason” and a “stab in the back,” he swiftly negotiated a deal that concluded the rebellion within a day. The agreement granted amnesty to Prigozhin and his mercenaries, allowing them to relocate to Belarus.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who facilitated the deal, indicated that Prigozhin had not requested security guarantees. Lukashenko conveyed, “Ensuring Prigozhin’s safety is not my responsibility… Our conversation did not revolve around that topic.” He cited information received during a trip to the United Arab Emirates, which he relayed to Putin and the head of Russia’s FSB security agency via the Russian ambassador.

Lukashenko later corroborated this information with Prigozhin, confirming that Putin had warned him about the threat.

In the wake of Prigozhin’s presumed demise, unverified reports suggested that numerous Wagner fighters had fled Belarus. Relatives of Wagner fighters conveyed lengthy queues for payments at a Wagner office located in Russia’s southern Krasnodar region, the base of the private military force.

Contributed by Aamer Madhani, writer for Big Big News, Washington.

For comprehensive coverage of the Ukraine conflict, visit

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about assassination suspicions

What is the main focus of the text?

The main focus of the text is the Kremlin’s denial of involvement in a plane crash that led to the presumed death of Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Who is Yevgeny Prigozhin and what is his background?

Yevgeny Prigozhin was a prominent mercenary leader known for his ruthless fighters in regions like Ukraine, Africa, and Syria. He orchestrated a mutiny in Russia that challenged President Putin’s rule.

What are the suspicions surrounding the plane crash?

There are suspicions that the plane crash was an orchestrated assassination due to Prigozhin’s role in the mutiny and his criticism of Russian military strategies.

What was the U.S. intelligence assessment regarding the plane crash?

The U.S. intelligence assessment suggested that the plane was intentionally downed by an explosion. Prigozhin was considered a likely target, aligning with Putin’s history of silencing critics.

How did the Kremlin respond to the allegations?

The Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, firmly rejected the allegations, labeling them as complete lies and speculations propagated from a specific perspective.

What was the reaction of other world leaders to the incident?

President Joe Biden expressed his belief that Putin might be behind the crash, citing his involvement in Russian events. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov found Biden’s remarks inappropriate.

What impact might Prigozhin’s presumed death have on his group?

Britain’s Defense Ministry noted that Prigozhin’s death could destabilize his Wagner Group of private military contractors due to his exceptional audacity and influence.

How did Prigozhin’s mutiny escalate the situation?

Prigozhin’s mercenaries captured military headquarters and downed aircraft, challenging Putin’s authority. The mutiny ended in a deal that granted amnesty to Prigozhin and his fighters.

Was there any prior warning about the threat to Prigozhin?

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko claimed he had received information about an impending assassination attempt on Prigozhin and informed Putin about it.

What is the current status of the investigation into the plane crash?

Russian authorities have initiated an investigation and recovered the flight recorders. Genetic testing is being employed to identify the victims.

What is the coverage offered by The Big Big News on the Ukraine conflict?

For comprehensive coverage of the Ukraine conflict, visit

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Alex August 25, 2023 - 6:43 pm

kremlin denying involvemnt in crash? suspcious af. russia’s dark politix at play again?

Max August 26, 2023 - 9:42 am

u.s. intel sez explosion downed plane, Prigozhin targeet. putin silence critics?

Jenna August 26, 2023 - 12:09 pm

whoa! Prigozhin, brutal merc leader, gone in crash. putin’s hands clean?

Lisa August 26, 2023 - 12:15 pm

prez biden say Putin involved. Lukashenko warned too. intense power play?

Sammy August 26, 2023 - 3:15 pm

this reads like a spy thriller. mutiny, assassination suspicions. messy politics.


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