The passenger list of the plane that crashed in the Tver region contains the name of Yevgeny Prigozhin, Rosaviatsia, the Russian aeronautics service, as reported and quoted by major Russian news agencies. Prior to this, the Ministry of Emergency Situations had reported that ten people were traveling on board the plane, which covered the route between Moscow and Saint Petersburg, including three crew members, and that all the occupants would have died according to the first information available.
The accident involved a Brazilian-made private plane, an Embraer Legacy, which crashed near the town of Kujenkino, in the Tver region, located northwest of Moscow. Search operations for the victims are being carried out by the Ministry of Emergency Situations.
Although videos are circulating on Telegram showing a crashing plane or burning aircraft wreckage, the authenticity of these has not been confirmed by AFP. So far, the bodies of eight people have been found, according to an emergency services official quoted by the Ria Novosti news agency.
Interestingly, Russian President Vladimir Putin was present at a Kursk battle memorial ceremony during the incident. However, in his speech, he avoided alluding to the accident and instead praised the bravery and dedication of the soldiers involved in the special military operation.
The alleged inclusion of Yevgeny Prigozhin on the passenger list has raised speculation, especially since Putin had previously branded Prigozhin a “traitor. Prigozhin led an uprising by Wagner’s mercenaries, but the rebellion was quickly put down in a deal involving his departure for Belarus and the incorporation of the militiamen into Russia’s regular armed forces.
Various observers and analysts have theorized about the relevance of this incident in the Russian political context, even speculating that Prigozhin’s death could be a signal from Putin to Russian elites ahead of elections scheduled for 2024. Ukrainian authorities and the White House have also suggested that Prigozhin could be among the victims of the accident.