Kremlin says ‘deliberate wrongdoing’ is a possible cause of the plane crash that killed Wagner chief

by Chloe Baker
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Plane Crash Investigation

The plane crash that resulted in the tragic demise of Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin last week has raised questions about the potential factors behind the incident. The Kremlin’s spokesperson stated that “deliberate wrongdoing” is among the plausible explanations for the crash. This revelation was made during a press briefing by Dmitry Peskov, the presidential press secretary, who emphasized that various hypotheses are under consideration by Russian investigators, including the unsettling possibility of intentional misconduct.

The ill-fated flight, carrying Prigozhin, the prominent figure behind the private military organization known as Wagner, along with his key associates, met its tragic end halfway between Moscow and St. Petersburg, resulting in the loss of all seven passengers and three crew members.

Despite this unfortunate event, the Interstate Aviation Committee, headquartered in Moscow and responsible for overseeing civil aviation in former Soviet republics, stated that it is not currently involved in investigating the crash. Nonetheless, it’s worth noting that the agency does maintain a division dedicated to accident investigation.

Peskov expressed that there won’t be an international inquiry into the incident, urging patience from the media while the Russian Investigative Committee completes its thorough review. The committee, in a standard procedure for cases lacking immediate indications of foul play, announced the initiation of a criminal investigation into potential violations of flight safety shortly after the crash occurred.

Interestingly, this tragic event unfolded precisely two months after Prigozhin led a brief armed rebellion against Russia’s military leadership. This act posed a considerable challenge to President Vladimir Putin’s authority, marking a notable development in Putin’s 23-year-long tenure. However, the Kremlin has categorically denied any involvement in the plane crash.

Prigozhin, aged 62, was laid to rest in his hometown of St. Petersburg in a discreet and private ceremony that only became known to the public on Tuesday evening when his representatives disclosed the burial location.

Amid the aftermath of this incident, analysts and officials from Western nations anticipate that the Wagner private military force will continue its operations, particularly in Africa’s Sahel region. In this area, Russian mercenaries have played a role in providing security against extremist groups such as al-Qaida and the Islamic State.

Despite the loss of Prigozhin, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell expressed the belief that Wagner will find a suitable replacement. Borrell, while chairing discussions among EU defense ministers, noted that Wagner’s activities will persist, serving the interests of President Putin, particularly in Africa. Nonetheless, concerns have been raised about the organization’s impact on peace and stability in the Sahel, as its actions don’t necessarily align with the well-being of Saharan Africans.

Africa carries significant importance for Russia both economically and politically. Wagner has been instrumental in various endeavors across the continent. For instance, they contributed to securing a national referendum in the Central African Republic, reinforcing presidential authority. Additionally, they partnered with Mali’s army in countering armed rebel groups and engaged with the military junta in Niger following a coup.

This expansion of ties and influence in Africa is a strategic priority for the Kremlin, especially in light of its ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Wagner fighters played a crucial role in Russia’s efforts to secure the city of Bakhmut after a prolonged and intense battle. Recognizing the significance of Africa’s 54 nations as the largest voting bloc at the United Nations, Moscow has actively sought their support amid its involvement in Ukraine.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Plane Crash Investigation

What were the potential causes considered for the plane crash involving the Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin?

The Kremlin spokesperson mentioned that “deliberate wrongdoing” is among the possible causes being explored for the tragic plane crash.

Who provided information about the various hypotheses surrounding the crash?

Dmitry Peskov, the presidential press secretary, shared insights about the different versions being considered by Russian investigators, including the unsettling possibility of intentional misconduct.

How did the crash impact the private military force Wagner?

The crash claimed the lives of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of Wagner, and his top associates. This incident raised concerns about the future operations of the Wagner private military force.

Is there an international investigation into the plane crash?

No, there won’t be an international inquiry. The Russian Investigative Committee is conducting a comprehensive review to ascertain the circumstances behind the crash.

Was foul play suspected initially?

The Russian Investigative Committee initiated a criminal case to probe potential flight safety violations, a standard procedure when foul play isn’t immediately suspected.

How did this event relate to a prior armed rebellion?

The crash occurred exactly two months after Prigozhin led a short-lived armed rebellion against Russia’s military leadership, posing a significant challenge to President Vladimir Putin’s authority.

What is the outlook for Wagner’s future operations?

Despite the loss of Prigozhin, analysts and officials anticipate Wagner will continue its operations, particularly in Africa’s Sahel region, where they have contributed to security efforts.

Why is Africa important to the Kremlin?

Africa holds economic and political significance for Russia. Wagner’s involvement in various African nations aligns with Moscow’s effort to establish alliances and counter Western influence on the continent.

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