Yevgeni Prigojin, the founding leader of the mercenary militia group Wagner, died as a result of the crash of a private jet in the Tver region of Russia. Prigojin was the name behind the Wagner presence in conflict zones from Ukraine to Syria, Libya to Niger. Now let’s examine Yevgeny Prigojin and his death in 5 questions.
Who is Yevgeny Prigojin?
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, Prigojin, 62, moved to St. Thanks to the restaurant he opened in St. Petersburg, he met Vladimir Putin, who was the vice mayor at that time.
Using these connections to expand his restaurant and catering companies, Prigojin was known as “Putin’s Chef” because he hosted dinners in the Kremlin that Putin attended with foreign dignitaries.
The “Wagner” security company, which he founded with former intelligence officer Utkin, made a name for itself around the world when it was involved in Russia’s illegal annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.
Where did Wagner operate?
Under Prigojin’s leadership, Wagner has been at the forefront of Russia’s activities in Africa, Syria and Ukraine.
Mali, Madagascar, Mozambique, Sudan, Burkina Faso, Libya and the Central African Republic were among the places where it was active in the African continent. To support the Assad administration, Wagner sent troops to Syria in 2015.
Wagner started to deploy his mercenaries in Ukraine on March 28, 2022, with the start of the Russia-Ukraine war in 2022, after the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its presence in Ukraine.
He played an important role in the capture of the Ukrainian town of Bahmut, but the arguments he had with the Russian army during these conflicts ended in exile to Belarus.
Why did he get tense with the Russian administration?
On June 23, 2023, Prigojin accused the Russian army of organizing an attack on Wagner and threatened to respond and started a rebellion against the Russian administration.
The Federal Security Service (FSB) opened a criminal case on charges of “armed riot”. In a statement made by the Russian Ministry of Defense, the allegations that Wagner’s camps were attacked were denied.
Russian President Putin, in his address to the public, said, “What we face is betrayal. Exorbitant ambitions and personal interests led to betrayal against the country and the people.” said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that Wagner’s action was an “armed rebellion” and said, “All criminals who attempt an armed rebellion, organize it, and resort to blackmail and terror methods will inevitably be punished.” had spoken.
Where was Prigojin last seen?
Yevgeny Prigojin, the leader of the Russian mercenary militia group Wagner, broadcast a video message for the first time after the attempted rebellion in Ukraine and announced that he was in Africa.
In this message, which was published recently, Prigojin was seen wearing camouflage clothes.
Prigojin claimed in the video recording that they were making Africa freer:
“We are working. Temperature +50 everything is as we wish. Wagner PMC conducts exploration and exploration activities, making Russia bigger on all continents, Africa more free. Justice and happiness for the African people, the lives of Daesh, Al Qaeda and other thugs.” We turn it into a nightmare.”
After the coup attempt in Niger, this message of the Wagner leader was interpreted as that Wagner would continue his activities in Africa. In fact, some experts interpreted Prigojin’s African message as “melting the ice between him and the Kremlin”.
“As far as I know, Prigojin had just returned from his Africa trip yesterday,” said Putin, who issued a message after his death.
How did the plane crash?
The Pentagon, the US Department of Defense, assesses that the plane was not shot down by a missile launched from the ground. However, British intelligence officials, who do not share their identities, argue that the jet was shot down by Russia’s internal security agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB), on Putin’s orders.
On the other hand, according to the data shared by Flightradar 24, the online flight tracking site, from the capital Moscow to St. The Embraer Legacy 600 model private jet bound for St. Petersburg disappeared from the radar yesterday at 18.11 local time.
Ian Petçenik from Flightradar24 pointed out that the private jet belonging to Prigojin suddenly started to crash and said that the plane, which flew at an altitude of about 8.5 kilometers, lost almost 2.5 kilometers in 30 seconds.
Brazil-based aircraft manufacturer Embraer stated that they were aware of the crash of the jet, but did not share any details about the incident.
Russia denies the allegations in the Western media that the Kremlin had a hand in Prigojin’s death.
Kremlin Spokesman Dmitriy Peskov said: “Naturally, there is a lot of speculation about this plane crash and the tragic death of passengers, including Prigoijn.” used the phrase.
Who says what about his death?
In the post made by the Telegram channel Gray Zone, which is known to be close to Wagner and has more than 500 thousand followers, it was claimed that the Russian Ministry of Defense assassinated Prigojin.
One of the claims that the plane may have been shot down while underway came from eyewitnesses speaking to the UK’s (UK) public broadcaster BBC.
The people, whose identities have not been shared, claimed that they heard explosion sounds before the plane crashed.
Pentagon Spokesman Brigadier General Patrick Ryder also stated in the press release that the US thinks Prigojin was killed, and claimed that “Our initial assessment based on various factors is that he was probably killed.”
According to the US preliminary intelligence assessment, the private jet, which was carrying the founder of the Russian mercenary group Wagner, Yevgeny Prigojin and 9 people, was shot down as a result of a “deliberate explosion”.