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By Dave Van Zandt

Yevgeny Prigozhin, once a close confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was reportedly killed in a plane crash in Russia’s Tver region. The aircraft was a business jet that crashed northwest of Moscow, leading to the deaths of all ten people onboard. Prigozhin was listed on the passenger list. The plane was flying from Moscow to St. Petersburg at the time of the crash. The cause of the crash has not been confirmed.

Prigozhin was the leader of the Wagner Russian mercenary group that orchestrated a short-lived coup against the Russian government in June 2023. He had been vocally critical of Russia’s top officials and had spearheaded several battles for Russia on the Ukrainian front.

An agreement was reached between Prigozhin and Putin after the failed coup that drew global attention, including comments from U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, where he noted the incident exposed cracks in Russia’s facade and warned Prigozhin to remain concerned

Prigozhin was supposed to relocate to Belarus with fighters who had participated in the rebellion. It is unclear why his plane was near Moscow during the crash.

President Joe Biden, being briefed on the situation, stated, “We have seen the reports. If confirmed, no one should be surprised.” 

Adding another layer to this complex narrative, Putin described the actions of those involved in the rebellion as a “betrayal of the country.” While he didn’t name Prigozhin directly, he made it clear that the organizers of the mutiny had “betrayed their country, their people, and also those who were drawn into the crime.” In a 2018 interview, Putin said he could forgive people but not for everything. Specifically, he said he couldn’t forgive “betrayal” (watch the video).

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