‘Prigozhin alive’ conspiracy as it emerges Wagner boss also ‘died’ in 2019 crash

Conspiracy theorists reckon Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin might still be alive after yesterday's (Wednesday, August 23) plane crash as he was reported to have died in a similar incident in 2019.

Russian authorities announced the mercenary leader died yesterday when a plane carrying 10 people crashed in Russia's Tver region.

Wagner social media accounts claimed it was shot down by Russian air defences and accused Vladimir Putin of taking action against Prigozhin following Wagner's aborted mutiny and march on Moscow in June.

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However, it isn't the first time it has been reported that Prigozhin has died in a plane crash.

On October 11, 2019 an Antonov-72 crashed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, killing all eight people on board.

The fact Russian nationals were among those killed, some of whom were associated with gun-running, was an early indicator of Russia and Wagner's growing influence in Africa.

The plane itself actually belonged to the Congolese President and was carrying some of his personal staff.

In the days after the crash, Russian outlets reported Prigozhin was on board, apparently using the plane to travel to a meeting with the Congolese President.

The mercenary boss didn't re-emerge for days after, sparking speculation that he had been offed for one reason or another. Obviously, he eventually did turn up alive and continued to lead Wagner operations in Africa, the Middle East and Ukraine.

People on X (formerly Twitter) have been speculating that a similar scenario might arise following yesterday's news.

One post read: "This is the second time Prigozhin has been reported dead in a plane crash. Might be worth waiting to see what happens before pronouncing him dead."

Another person said: "In 2019, when plane crashed in Congo, Prigozhin was already announced dead, but he wasn’t. We have to wait…"

A third speculated: "I'm slightly sheepish about saying this but photos or #Prigozhin is not dead. He already 'died' once."

Ivan Kłyszcz, a Russian foreign policy expert with the International Centre for Defence and Security at Tallinn University, urged people not to "rush to conclusions" regarding Prigozhin's death but did point to two key difference between yesterday's crash and the one in 2019.

The first was "motive" following the mutiny, the second was "opportunity" given that yesterday's took place in Russia.

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