Yevgeny Prigozhin ‘mysteriously’ died when his plane was shot down over Russia

Embed from Getty Images

Over the course of one weekend this past June, Yevgeny Prigozhin came very close to achieving a paramilitary coup of Russia. Allow me to recap: Prigozhin was a Russian caterer turned mercenary chief. Vladimir Putin liked his caterer so much, Putin authorized Prigozhin to form the Wagner Group, a paramilitary force of mostly recently imprisoned mercenaries. Wagner’s sphere of influence grew by leaps and bounds when Putin invaded Ukraine and the Russian military couldn’t handle the invasion or occupation, which is when Putin hired Wagner mercs to fill in the gaps. Allegedly, Prigozhin was angry about the Russian military leaders’ failure to properly plan or help Wagner in Ukraine. Which is when Prigozhin used Wagner to invade Russia. First he “took” Rostov, then Wagner’s forces hauled ass to Moscow over the course of a day, but they stopped short of a full-scale invasion of Moscow.

The whole thing was a huge embarrassment for Putin, even more so because Putin had to call Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko and get Lukashenko to talk some sense into Prigozhin. It worked though – Prigozhin backed off and flew to some undisclosed location, presumably under the temporary protection of Lukashenko. Everyone knew that it was just a matter of time before Prigozhin was accidentally defenestrated or he was handed a cup of tea laced with polonium. Well, funny story:

Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner mercenary group who staged a brief mutiny against Russia’s military leadership in June, was listed as a passenger on a plane that crashed Wednesday, killing all 10 people aboard, according to Russian aviation authorities.

“An investigation of the Embraer plane crash that happened in the Tver Region this evening was initiated,” the Federal Agency for Air Transport of Russia said in a statement, according to the state news agency Tass. “According to the passenger list, first and last name of Yevgeny Prigozhin was included in this list.” But late into the Russian evening, the authorities had not officially confirmed that he had been killed.

The plane left Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport at about 6 p.m. local time, bound for St. Petersburg, and went down less than 100 miles to the northwest, near the city of Tver. In an article about the crash, the Russian state media agency, RIA Novosti, posted an unconfirmed video, widely shared on social media, that purports to show the plane tumbling from the sky, with smoke billowing.

The crash came hours after Russian authorities said that General Sergei Surovikin, a top officer who was seen as an ally of Mr. Prigozhin, had been relieved of his post. Mr. Surovikin and Mr. Prigozhin were seen as among the most ruthlessly effective Russian military leaders, both sidelined in power struggles with officials who had the ear of President Vladimir V. Putin.

[From The NY Times]

A good rule of thumb for future would-be Russian despots: if you have an army of mercenaries and they’re all gassed up and ready to take Moscow, take Moscow. I know I’m not supposed to root for Prigozhin or his lil’ Nazi merc group, but jeez, what poor planning. Surely Prigozhin knew he was a dead man walking as soon as he backed off from a full-scale invasion of Moscow? He blinked, and so now he sleeps with the fishes.

When they asked President Biden if he believed Putin was behind Prigozhin’s assassination, Biden said: “There’s not much that happens in Russia that Putin’s not behind. But I don’t know enough to know the answer.” In case you’re wondering, the Russian military fully shot down Prigozhin’s plane. There’s a video. Although it’s also possible that Prigozhin faked his death and is now living it up in Argentina.

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

Photos courtesy of Getty.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

70 Responses to “Yevgeny Prigozhin ‘mysteriously’ died when his plane was shot down over Russia”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Eurydice says:

    Hmmm, I wonder who the other 9 were.

    • Ocean Girl says:

      Yeah, I wonder about that as well.

    • Seraphina says:

      I had read last night the others were top heads of Wagner but that hasn’t been circulating enough to prove true. Twitter was saying the Wagner group has basically been decapitated. Not sure if that is true either.

    • Mary Pester says:

      @Eurodice, probably other generals and the like that Putin couldn’t find convenient windows for?!

      • Eurydice says:

        Yes, I thought – he can’t throw all of them out the window and pointy umbrellas with poisoned tips are unreliable in groups.

        But my real question is if the others were just regular people – I mean, were the pilot and any crew part of Wagner? I suppose it’s possible Putin would have “innocents” killed just to get to Prigozhin, but he could have done that any time – still, it’s Putin…

    • snappyfish says:

      My question, is a pretty terrible one, is were they alive when they were put on the plane. I ask because Prigozhin hasn’t been “seen” since his little march on The Kremlin. I’m not really much on conspiracy theories BUT he hasn’t been seen. There have been recordings of him, and photos of what was supposed to be his hand but no “live” shots of him. It would explain how he & his men where “dumb” enough to get on the same plane. The other question is what was told to the pilot if that was the case. The plane based on photos was either taken down by a surface to air missile or an altitude sensitive explosive, much like what took down the PanAM 103 flight that exploded over Lockerbie Scotland.

      I know it sounds a bit much but I spent a bit of time in Russia at the Hermitage during my graduate program & its a very different way of life there.

      • Bettyrose says:

        Interesting question!

      • Moxylady says:

        Asking the right questions SnappyFish.

        Plus with the explosion / crash, their mutilated bodies are to be expected.
        I assume they are tortured for a while, then killed horribly.

        I wonder if his family was on the plane with him.

      • Thank you, that makes sense, it is not dumb for dead people to get on planes.

      • Seraphina says:

        Ohhhhhh, yes! The plot could be thicker than our honest and moral minds dare conjure up. I could see Putin doing that and would explain how they all were on the plane because I thought that was just stupid of them.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      @ Eurydice, I’m curious as Wagner released a video just yesterday, the day before, as he was back in Africa maintaining “peace” there…..

      Wagner JUST released it!!!!! WTF is going on??

    • Seraphina says:

      OK CBs, GREAT conversation and insight. BUT @’Tree (post #13) makes a great point – why would Prigozhin march on Moscow and then just stop??? He cannot have been that stupid – he knew what Putin was about and what he was capable of. And when something doesn’t add up there is good reason why it doesn’t. Now one could argue it would be to show Putin his strength. Whatever the reason, it’s interesting to put all these scenarios on the chess board.

      • sunny says:

        Yeah the march was kind of about Putin but it was more about Progozhin’s enemies within the military structure of the Kremlin. For well over a decades he was running his little mercenary army with little Kremlin oversight and over the last year they were trying to bring him to heel and put his forces under Kremlin control of senior military officials he haaaaaaaated. He didn’t get what he wanted with the coup plan which at least in part was maintaining full control of his forces.

        And then the other thing was the speculation that he couldn’t have rolled up on old mother Russia without some strong supporters within the Russian military infrastructure and whether or not letting him live at all was at least in part to smoking some of those sympathizers out.

        This fallout of this will be interesting. Some people are pointing to the fallout in Ukraine because Ukraine’s latest military counter-offensive has been gaining little ground or not at all but Progozhin’s forces had mostly been pulled out of there. The really interesting spot to watch will be western Africa where the Wagner group has been up to all sorts of shady shit over the last several years, in a region of Africa that has seen more coups and rollbacks of democracy that almost any other part of the continent combined. Who knows what they were doing their under their guise of providing “private security”.

    • Spillthattea says:

      Collateral damage.

  2. Ocean Girl says:

    Yeah, “sorry, my bad.” just doesn’t work with Putin. I don’t know why people who support tfg don’t realize they’re supporting Putin.

    • Brassy Rebel says:

      How do we know they don’t know? They don’t seem to care.

      • Ocean Girl says:


      • Bee (not THAT Bee) says:

        Yeah, a lot of them stick up for him on twitter. I guess it’s a yt supremacy thing.

        Hillary was right: T***p is certainly the horse that Vladimir rides around on!

      • Saucy&Sassy says:

        Bee (not THAT Bee), I guess it could be white supremacy, but it doesn’t feel like that to me. Of course, I grew up at a time that the Soviet Union was evil and those that led the Soviet Union were evil. I’ve never been able to understand how anyone in the US would stick up for him. He’s a dictator–it isn’t like anyone believes Russia’s elections aren’t fixed before they happen. Why would anyone in a democracy like him? I honestly cannot figure it out.

  3. Seraphina says:

    I could not understand why Moscow wasn’t taken. Maybe he realized it would upset too much and the instability would be too much for the world to handle due to what may happen in Russia IF Moscow was taken???
    What I do know is that EVERYONE said it would only be a matter of time before he was “mysteriously” killed. Putin may be saying: there is no mystery – I shot down his plane.
    Bottom line and moral to the story, just like you said Kaiser: when going against Putin one better finish the job or be finished.
    To anyone who understands present day Russia and Putin, is there no one who can stand up to this guy? Is his grip that strong?

    • ncboudicca says:

      Saw speculation somewhere that Prigozhin only stopped the Wagner advance because Putin’s FSB buddies grabbed Prigozhin’s family? It does seem like a valid reason at one level, but at another I can’t believe that Prigozhin wouldn’t have spirited his family members away to safety BEFORE marching on Moscow. This entire story reads like a bad action movie where the plot makes no sense.

    • R says:

      It’s complicated. Ordinary people in Russia might not like Putin, but years and years of oppression, corruption, poverty and fear wears people down. the Russian billionaires and every person with power in Russia gain nothing from opposing Putin and they don’t want to lose any bit of their power, influence and money. Plus a very strong propaganda and censorship makes the regular Russian person wary, fearful and resentful of western countries. a chunk of them also legitimately believes in the heyday of Imperial Russia and that former soviet countries belongs to Russia, courtesy of propaganda. That’s Russian side of it. the other thing is that Russia has nukes and fossil fuel and west EU is very, very scared because of that. At our household, we joke that if Russia decides to nuke EU, we hopefully will be dead upon impact and not days laters. International courts have very limited powers and reach, that’s why the Hague, international court of justice can’t do much. there is a very good video of how the Hague works on Médiapart, a very good French news outlet. Médiapart in general has been very informative regarding Ukraine-Russia.

      • Taylor19 says:

        Russia was not part of international court so does america. People have to remember at un many countries didnt take west view point or west side. Also russia is not small country to arrest or over throw their government and install puppet like west always does. Heck america and west cant even overthrow north korean dictators.

      • R says:

        Meant to say, every Russian oligarch got their power and money from Putin, so they’re not super inclined to go against the guy. every person who opposes Putin get elimated from power very quickly.

      • R says:

        @taylor19. it cleary states Russia Federation as an UN member. plus Russia is a permanent member of Council Of Security

      • taylor19 says:

        Im not talking about UN , im talking about international court where both russia and America is not member. So they cant issue arrest warrent to putin. Russia is not member , so they dont play by the rule of International court.

      • Eurydice says:

        Those years of oppression, corruption, poverty and fear stretch back to the 9th century – it’s part of the fatalism. Economically, Russia is better now than it ever was but, with the way Putin has restructured and solidified power ever since the fall of the Soviet Union, he’s pretty much everywhere – politics, business, money, communications – nothing happens without him.

      • R says:

        @Taylor19. well, have a look at this?

      • R says:

        @ Eurydice. Even though Russia is a BRIC country, i’d say, still lots of poverty and corruption going, precisely since you’ve mentioned, power is in the hands of an autocratic regime.

      • Eurydice says:

        @R – Oh, absolutely. Except for a hopeful nanosecond here and there, Russia has never not been in the hands of an autocratic regime – it’s really part of the culture. As for poverty – yes, but it’s relative. Once upon a time there was no middle class, the middle class expanded after the fall of the USSR and with Putin’s early economic reforms, and now it’s shrinking again – mostly because of military spending and economic sanctions. I don’t understand a mindset like Putin’s – such a large country with natural resources, with so many talented people – why isn’t that enough for him?

      • R says:

        @Eurydice, hmmm…I see what you mean. Maybe it’s because I’m born and raised in West-Europe (and never known poverty), with my parents coming from China, but I’d say still a lot of poverty going on in Russia and China (they have similar economical trajectory and ‘reforms’). Especially rampant in the communities of ethnic minorities. Yes, there is a middle class. Yes, some people are very, very rich and educated. Yes, some cities are super technologically advanced and yes there is no (human induced) famine, insane experimental economical reforms, no cultural revolution (yet) and global economy forces Russia and China to be recognised, but middle class is small and shrinking, human rights are diminishing and both Xi and Putin are seemingly modelling themselves to Mao and Stalin. I think both Russia and China are too big, too powerful to fall, but it’s depressing to see what they are becoming…PS, I think dictators like Xi and Putin are just pyschopaths and just too high on power and ego. They get off on scaring and controlling people.

    • Fifty-50 says:

      To put it in context: remember the Trump years? Remember how powerless everyone felt as the Republicans let him get away with everything, how the Dems impeached him but the Senate refused to remove him from office? Remember that sick, sinking feeling — the exhaustion, the misinformation, the fear we had for our lives because Trump’s supporters had guns and weren’t afraid to use them?

      Now imagine that, except it’s been going on since 1997, by a guy who is a hell of a lot smarter than Trump, kills all his opponents with impunity, and who now controls Russia’s internet. Republicans are small fry compared to the power of the oligarchs, and the oligarchs live and die at Putin’s pleasure.

      • North of Boston says:

        Good point. Putin’s set up in Russia is aspirational for some Republicans and American billionaires.

        Remember the GOP congressional field trip on Fourth of July a few years ago? Some of those jerks in power would love the US to become more like Russia, with their guy at the top, their cronies filling SCOTUS and other governing body/authority organizations and them in the role of Russian oligarchs siphoning wealth, privilege, power, everything out of the souls of the rest of us.

      • ⁷Tree says:

        @ 50. Where I’m at those same people are now trying to rejoin society. Like, we don’t know they were trying to overthrow the usa system to replace it with something more unfair. They are moving to liberal areas because they have ruined their economies. They are bringing with them the same mindset. Just like Russia. You don’t know who to trust until years later.

      • Eurydice says:

        Now imagine it going on for 1,000 years.

  4. Not a surprise that one of his enemies has come to a tragic end. Everyone else was collateral damage.

    • Genevieve says:

      Everyone else dying was also a handy message to the rest of the population: Don’t even think about hanging around near someone who might be disloyal. Very effective for squashing future would-be conspirators.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      Which was evident whenPutin had the Malaysia Airlines flight 17 shot down as well.

      Putin doesn’t care WHO he kills as he isn’t discriminatory against anyone who becomes merely a victim of his dictatorship, including his OWN people.

  5. Prairiegirl says:

    Surprised it took Putin this long to off the guy, TBH.

    • Brassy Rebel says:

      Two months to the day since the mini-coup. There are no accidents with Putin. Imagine how brazen he has to be to shoot a plane down in broad daylight.

      • Twin Falls says:

        I’m so annoyed by all the headlines playing coy with what happened. The plane was SHOT DOWN by Russian military. No surprise to anyone so I don’t understand the reluctance to say so?

        The halfway storming of Moscow is still the mystery.

      • May says:

        Yes, I saw a theory yesterday that explosives had been smuggled onto the plane in a wine crate; and, that the stewardess informed her family prior to the flight that there was a delay because of “repairs.”. This flies in the face of the blatant evidence that the plane was shot down. Besides, I don’t know how an explosion from inside of the plane could cause the sole visible damage of a missing wing. The plane also, shortly before it came down, started making what appear to be evasive maneuvers and two explosions were heard. I’m thinking the first missile missed or cause little damage, the plane went into evasive maneuvers and the second missile hit one of the wings. But yes, saying there was an explosion on the inside of the plane allows for Putin to try to pin this on non-russian military sources.

    • olliesmom says:

      This has Putie and his henchmen all over it. Normally Putin would just have someone shoved out a window or have their tea order poisoned at the airport. Something this dramatic took some planning. This was a big statement to all enemies and anyone plotting against him.

      Also how did they have the passenger manifest so quickly? This was a private plane. It usually takes a little longer to get that. HMMMM.

  6. BQM says:

    A deal with Prigozhin and the WG was that they could take over area they took. He has mines all over Africa since he’s been insinuating himself down there. Training troops, making deals with warlords, backing coups. He was just lending Putin some cover with the BRICA meeting. Now his usefulness is done. But those properties are up for grab and who do we think wants them? All kinds of precious minerals. Including uranium. This goes way beyond his aborted coup in Moscow.

    • Seraphina says:

      Thank you for pointing that out. Very interesting.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      @ BQM, the day after Wagner was sanctioned to Belarus, his Russian home and offices were looted and Putin took every bit of the money that Wagner had stashed. I would also assume that Putin took over any financial banking assets as well.

      • BQM says:

        It’s the African assets that are the real interest. Wagner has a HUGE and ever increasing footprint there.

    • Lady D says:

      Far, too much oxygen was wasted on Prigozhin and is still be wasted by Putin.

    • bisynaptic says:

      Yes, was wondering what will happen to all that. The infrastructure has been destroyed. Putin can’t just slide into Prigozhin’s shoes. And it was the money coming from Wagner’s operations in Africa that was sustaining the war effort, I’ve read.

  7. ThatsNotOkay says:

    Putin must be slipping in his old age, as this took him long enough. No one expected this guy to “live in exile.” “Die in exile”? Yes. “Be murdered in exile”? Most definitely. But live? Come in.

  8. Aidee Kay says:

    I was surprised when Paton let him walk away from an an attempted coup. But Russian assassinations occur sometimes years after the “offense” to the government is made, like in the cases of the Russians killed in England. This was very much expected and I can’t believe Prigozhin didn’t make better plans to avoid this fate.

  9. novaroux says:

    If this is in fact true, I want to congratulate the Russian military for finally killing its first Nazi since last February.

    On a more serious note, I am curious to see what this does for any potential future attempts at getting Putin out of the Kremlin. The war is still not going well for them and homeboy can’t leave his country for fear of getting arrested and tried for war crimes. It will be interesting to watch the fallout from this and see if Putin has done enough to keep others at bay, at least for now, cause you know they’re coming.

  10. laurie says:

    Don’t know if this is true, but I read that they shot off a wing so that the last moments of his life were spent in terror. Couldn’t happen to a better guy. I think of all the innocent Ukrainians (and other countries as mentioned above) who died in terror, having been raped and tortured by his animals.

    • PunkyMomma says:

      It looked like a precision strike—videos show that the fuselage was intact as it fell—sans wings. IDK mechanics regarding this aircraft, but fuel is usually stored in aircraft wings. This plane was not that far from Moscow. It’s surprising that the plane didn’t come down in a fireball or that the fuselage did not implode upon being hit.

  11. Beenie says:

    Prigozhout! 👋🏻

  12. Torttu says:

    The war is not going well for Russia. At all. Russia will self-destruct within a year.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      I don’t see that happening as Putin is much like a yard dog that is formidable his entire life. The only way to stop Putin and rescue Russia is if he is assassinated. Why that hasn’t happened has always escaped me…….

  13. ⁷Tree says:

    I agree with the write-up. I even said the same thing that this maybe fake. I will take it a step further. Are we absolutely sure Wagner staged a half planned coup? Why did he stop? I have always felt the coup was fake. Wagner is in hot water everywhere and now they pull that. Sounds weird.

  14. ME says:

    I’m not sure who the other 9 on the plane were, but I bet the pilot and flight attendant had nothing to do with anything and were just doing their jobs. Also, everyone pretty much said it was only a matter of time before he was killed. I’m shocked anyone would want to be anywhere near the guy or get on a f*cking plane with him, especially knowing how ruthless Putin is. There is also speculation he may have faked his death? Which would be even more insane since 10 people died on that plane, just so he could fake his death?

  15. MsIam says:

    How very Putin of him to blow up his enemy.

  16. Rnot says:

    There are at several possibilities:
    1. Putin ordered his assassination.
    2. He faked his own death and is hiding out somewhere.
    3. He was already dead when he was loaded onto the plane.
    4. Putin faked his death and he’s in a dungeon somewhere Putin can gloat at/torture him for the rest of his life.
    5. Russia’s seizure of foreign owned civilian aircraft at the start of the war and the subsequent cutoff of access to international maintenance and parts systems led to a genuine mechanical failure.

    He struck at the king and missed. There’s speculation that Prigozhin was expecting some support from within the military and when that didn’t materialize he realized the the “coup” couldn’t succeed. There are rumors that threats were made to wives and children which kept certain parties on the sidelines. If he was at all rational then he’s spent the last two months putting his affairs in order. If Putin is rational then he’s spent the last two months defanging Wagner and any potential successors and/or dead man’s switches. TBD whether a band of criminal mercenaries still has the leadership, resources, and loyalty to continue to oppose Putin.

  17. jferber says:

    Snappyfish, good point. I figured that the nine passengers might all be dead when put on the plane. Then they could have been tortured/given Polonium as extra punishment. Also, CNN reported that the plane was seen with one wing only before it went down. The 100 miles could be a lie, everything could be a lie, but I wouldn’t put it past Putin to send the plane up with one wing, if that’s even possible, as a visible warning to all future enemies (anyone opposed to Putin). I was just wondering the other day why hasn’t that man been reported dead yet. Well, here we are. His compatriots in the aborted flight were probably there with him. Putin would be totally okay to put “innocent” pilots on the plane to do this mission. He is a conscience-less killer. He probably slept better that night since his enemies received “justice.” And that’s Trump’s best friend and enabler, Putin the Just.

  18. Chiara_Boss says:

    PLOT THICKENS: So far not a single fragment of his body is found, only his phone that after falling from an 8 km height doesn’t have a scratch. Add that to witnesses that claimed to have seen Prigozhin in Mali after the crash, making it all look more like faking a death rather than a real assassination.