Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin has reportedly been killed after a private jet crashed on its way to Moscow this evening, killing 10 people according to Russia’s civil aviation authority.
A Wagner-linked Telegram channel Grey Zone reported the Embraer aircraft was shot down by air defences in the Tver region, north of Moscow.
It comes exactly two months after Prigozhin led a failed mutiny against the Russian armed forces in June – after the relationship between him and Russian president Vladimir Putin turned sour after years of Prigozhin carrying out his dirty work.
Tass news agency said the plane, a private Embraer Legacy, caught fire on hitting the ground, while eight bodies have reportedly already been found.
Prigozhin, 62, was dubbed “Putin’s chef” in the past – having owned restaurants and catering companies that provides services for the Kremlin after his release from prison.
READ MORE: First footage of Wagner chief’s plane crash as Prigozhin killed in ball of fire
In 2014, during Russia’s first invasion of Ukraine, Prigozhin made a request for land from the defence ministry that he could use for training “volunteers” who would have no official links to the Russian army but could still be used to fight Russia’s wars.
Though the ministry did not like his request, he said the order “came from Papa” which was a nickname he used for Putin to emphasis their closeness.
After nearly 10 years in prison, Prigozhin sold hot dogs on his release. A businessman who knew Prigozhin in the 1990s told The Guardian: “He’s driven and talented, and won’t shrink from anything to get what he wants.”
Prigozhin, who died a billionaire, has won plenty of money and power since his release from prison, but was not motivated by any of that, according to his closest allies.
He is said to be driven by “the chase” – and motivated by the desire to “crush his rivals”.
In 1981, Prigozhin was sentenced to 12 years in jail for robbery and fraud, and when he was released he began selling hot dogs in 1990 after early release.
He expanded business operations in 1995, while running popular and successful restaurants. He grew closer to Putin in the early 2000s.
Years later, he established the Wagner Group in 2014 to support Russian forces in the war in Donbas, before operations quickly expanded to Syria and Africa, becoming a key player in the 2022 Ukraine War.
He led a revolt against Putin and Russia’s military this past June, exactly two months before his death. The coup was dramatically brough to an end after an intervention from Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
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