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Who was Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin killed in Russia plane crash?

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner private mercenary group, is experiencing a rapid decline in his position inside Moscow.

By groundreportdesk
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Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner mercenary group, and allegedly involved in an unsuccessful coup against Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been said to meet his demise in a tragic plane crash, as per a Reuters report citing the Tass news agency. It is noted that the Russian Civil Aviation Authority has confirmed Yevgeny Prigozhin's presence on the passenger list of the ill-fated flight.

The aircraft in question was en route from Moscow to St. Petersburg when the incident occurred. Tragically, all 10 individuals on board, including three crew members, lost their lives in the crash, as reported by Russia's emergency ministry through the state news outlet RIA Novosti.

Who was Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin

Yevgeny Viktorovich Prigozhin was born on June 1, 1961 in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg), Soviet Union. He grew up in modest surroundings, with his mother, Violetta Prigozhina, supporting him and his ailing grandmother by working at a local hospital. Yevgeny's father died early and his mother played a crucial role in raising him.

During his school years, Prigozhin aspired to become a professional cross-country skier. He received training from his stepfather, Samuil Zharkoy, who was an instructor in the sport. Yevgeny attended a prestigious track and field boarding school, graduating in 1977. Despite his aspirations, however, his career as a skier was unsuccessful.

Prigozhin's life took a turn when he became involved in criminal activities. In November 1979, at the age of 18, he was caught stealing and received a suspended sentence. Unfortunately, he was caught shoplifting again in 1981 and was subsequently sentenced to twelve years in prison for robbery, fraud, and involving teenagers in crime. Along with his accomplices, he was found guilty of robbing apartments in upscale neighborhoods. Yevgeny spent a total of nine years in detention.

His Early life

After his release from prison in 1990, Prigozhin began selling hot dogs together with his mother and stepfather at the Aprashaka flea market in Leningrad. His entrepreneurial spirit led him to venture into various businesses as the Soviet Union collapsed. He got into the grocery store business and had a stake in Contrast, the first grocery store chain in St. Petersburg. He also entered the gaming industry and co-founded Spectrum CJSC, which established the first casinos in St. Petersburg.

In 1995, Prigozhin ventured into the restaurant business. He opened his first restaurant, Old Customs House, in St. Petersburg. The success of this establishment led him to found other restaurants, including the renowned New Island, a floating restaurant that became a popular place to dine in the city. His restaurants gained recognition serving notable figures such as Vladimir Putin, Jacques Chirac and George W. Bush.

Prigozhin's name became associated with the controversial private military contractor Wagner Group. He has been linked to the group and in September 2022 he confirmed that he founded the Wagner Group in May 2014 to support Russian forces in the war in Donbas. Wagner Group has been involved in various conflicts and operations, including the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Prigozhin's accusations and threats

On Friday, Prigozhin accused the Russian army of attacking a Wagner camp and causing significant casualties. He threatened to respond with force, stating that his forces would eliminate any resistance they encountered, including roadblocks and aircraft. He claimed to have a force of 25,000 and intended to find out the reasons behind the country's chaos.

Pushback and fallout: Prigozhin later retracted his threats, characterizing his criticism of the Russian military as a "march for justice" rather than a coup. However, it seems that his actions had already crossed the line with the Kremlin. The Russian Defense Ministry denied attacking Wagner's troops, calling the claims "informational propaganda". The FSB launched a criminal case against Prigozhin, accusing him of inciting armed rebellion.

Russian response and security measures

The FSB statement condemned Prigozhin's statements and actions, referring to them as a call for armed conflict inside Russian territory. They called on Wagner's fighters to arrest their leader.

Kremlin spokesman Dimitry Peskov confirmed President Vladimir Putin's knowledge of the situation. Russian authorities have increased security measures in Moscow, with reports of military vehicles patrolling the city's main streets.

Wagner's reputation

Wagner's mercenaries have faced accusations of human rights abuses in Africa, particularly in countries such as the Central African Republic, Libya and Mali. Western nations and UN experts have accused the group of torture, extrajudicial killings and destabilizing activities. Disturbing videos have emerged purporting to show Wagner contractors committing acts of violence.

A 2017 video showed armed individuals, allegedly Wagner mercenaries, torturing and killing a Syrian man with a sledgehammer, followed by the mutilation and burning of the body. The Russian authorities ignored requests for investigations into these incidents by the media and human rights activists.

In 2022, another video showed a former Wagner contractor beaten to death with a sledgehammer after he allegedly defected to the Ukrainian side and was later repatriated. Despite public outrage and demands for an investigation, the Kremlin took no action.

Wagner's role in Ukraine

As Russian regular troops met with setbacks and suffered significant losses in the ongoing conflict in the Ukraine, Wagner's presence became more prominent. Prigozhin personally recruited fighters from Russian prisons, offering pardons in exchange for a half-year tour of duty with Wagner at the front. He claimed to have conscripted 50,000 convicts, with approximately 10,000 casualties in the Bakhmut region alone. The group has played an important role in the conflict, bolstering the operations of Russian forces.

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