A plane carrying notorious Russian warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin, who launched a coup against Russian President Vladimir Putin over the summer, reportedly crashed on Wednesday.
The Russian government said that all 10 people on the plane, including its crew members, died in the crash, according to a report from The Financial Times.
The Russian Federal Air Transport Agency has announced that an Investigation has been launched to determine the “Cause” of the Aircraft Crash in the Tver Region which Killed all 10 Passengers onboard including Yevgeny Prigozhin. pic.twitter.com/1kguZWO4lr
— OSINTdefender (@sentdefender) August 23, 2023
Prigozhin, the now-former owner of Russia’s notorious Wagner paramilitary group, an organization that is designated as a Transnational Criminal Organization and is frequently accused of committing war crimes, tried to overthrow the Russian government back in June over what he claimed was an effort by top military officials to effectively sabotage Wagner’s fighting in Ukraine.
Prigozhin served nearly a decade in prison after being convicted of “assault, robbery, and fraud” in 1981, according to Insider. After being released from prison, he made his living selling hot dogs on street corners and eventually started a catering business, where he eventually met Russian President Vladimir Putin — then a low-level government official.
His company, Concord Catering, in the mid-to-late 1990s started receiving contracts from the Russian government.
According to a Wall Street Journal documentary, the Russian government laundered money to Prigozhin through his catering company, which he eventually used to start Wagner — initially a small group of only a few hundred former Russian soldiers that were hired to do Russia’s bidding in Ukraine in 2014.
Having Wagner do Russia’s bidding gave the Russian government plausible deniability as the group engaged in dirty work. Russian government contracts to Concord Catering have reportedly been estimated to be well into the billions of dollars.
An expert on Wagner told The Wall Street Journal that it is best to think of the group as a “state-backed paramilitary cartel.” The group is accused of massacring and raping civilians and exploiting natural resources in poor countries with dire security situations. The resources — commodities like gold, oil, and gas — go back to the Russian government.
The group operates in South America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Europe.
The Wall Street Journal said that it identified 64 companies that are linked to Wagner that are used as front companies to move money and assets. The report said that the Kremlin is connected to all of it.
Hundreds of Wagner troops faced off against U.S. forces in Syria during the Trump administration and were thoroughly decimated in a matter of minutes.
Prigozhin is also in charge of numerous other companies, including the Internet Research Agency, which was accused of interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
“We have interfered, we are interfering, and we will continue to interfere,” Prigozhin said the day before 2022’s midterm elections. “Carefully, accurately, surgically, and in our own way, as we know how to do.”
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