The decade's most triggering comedy
The moment that Wagner paramilitary group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, who failed in his attempt to overthrow the Russian government back in June, died was caught on camera as footage showed the plane that he was on falling out of the sky after some sort of explosion.
“Social-media channels close to Wagner said Russian air defenses shot down the jet, an Embraer Legacy 600,” The Wall Street Journal reported. “Video footage posted by onlookers showed what looked like the trail of a missile and the plane falling from the sky with one wing missing.”
Russia said that it was launching an investigation into the matter to determine the cause of the crash.
A private jet owned by Prigozhin was just shot down by Russian air defenses over Tver.
Around 10 people onboard have been killed. pic.twitter.com/mUCHws77Y0
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) August 23, 2023
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
News of Prigozhin’s death comes just a few hours after Russia removed General Sergei Surovikin, nicknamed “General Armageddon,” as head of the country’s air force after he went missing during the attempted coup and was accused by some of playing a role in it.
Reuters reported that a top Russian official said on background: “Ex-chief of the Russian Air and Space Forces Sergei Surovikin has now been relieved of his post, while Colonel-General Viktor Afzalov, head of the main staff of the Air Force, is temporarily acting as commander-in-chief of the Air Force”.
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, started receiving contracts from the Russian government in the mid-to-late 1990s.
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 and are used as front companies to move money and assets. The report said that the Kremlin is connected to all of it.