Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin is listed among the 10 passengers on board a plane that crashed just north of Moscow, Russia, according to a Russian state media statement reported by CNN. Officials say an investigation has been launched into what brought down the Embraer aircraft in the Tver region northeast of Moscow on Wednesday.
All 10 people on board, including three crew members are believed to be dead. State media reportedly says the plane “burned up” on impact after being in the air for about an hour and a half.”
A video appeared, which allegedly shows the moment of the crash of Prigozhin's plane. pic.twitter.com/KkTmw7LoH9
— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) August 23, 2023
CNN says flight data showed the Embraer Legacy, which was registered to Prigozhin, at a cruising altitude on its way to St. Petersburg over the Tver region after departing from a Moscow airport. That, of course, was before data transmission of speed and altitude stopped at 6:11 p.m. local time.
Curiously, the data doesn’t show a steep descent before the plane stopped transmitting data. I’m no expert, but that would imply something happened to the data in mid-air, rather than on the ground.
According to CNN, the Russian Investigative Committee said it has initiated “a criminal case” in regards to the downed plane. The case is reportedly based on Article 263 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, which apparently involves the violation of the rules of traffic safety and the operation of air transportation.
Additionally, the Committee says an investigation team is on the way to the scene. “All the necessary forensic examinations will be appointed, a set of investigative actions will be carried out to establish the causes of the crash.
On the other side of the world, President Joe Biden has reportedly been briefed on the situation, according to the White House.
“We have seen the reports. If confirmed, no one should be surprised,” council spokesperson Adrienne Watson reportedly said in a statement. “The disastrous war in Ukraine led to a private army marching on Moscow, and now — it would seem — to this.”
Biden has apparently weighed in and suggested Putin may have been behind the crash, adding that he, too, wasn’t surprised.
“You may recall, I was asked about this,” Biden told a CNN reporter, alluding to comments he made back in July about how Prighozin should be worried about his safety.
“I said I would be careful what I rode in,” Biden told reporters. “I don’t know for a fact what happened, but I’m not surprised.” He also added that there isn’t “much that happens in Russia that Putin is not behind,” but says he doesn’t know enough to know the answer.
So far, CNN says Russian state media is reporting that only eight bodies have been found at the crash site in Tver, which is a bit strange because there are believed to have been 10 people on board.
This is a developing story, and Jalopnik will update with more information as it becomes available.
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