Russian Press Agency (Tass) is reporting that a private jet belonging to the Wagner Group boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has crashed on Wednesday, killing all 10 persons on board.
Yevgeny Prigozhin was listed on the passenger manifest but it is unclear if he was onboard the ill-fated aircraft.
Russian emergency officials are saying that the plane carried three pilots and seven passengers.
The plane was moving from Moscow to St. Petersburg and reportedly went down in the Tver region, which is about 60 miles north of the Russian capital.
Recall that the Wagner Group, a mercenary band of fighters, had become very prominent especially in the Russia – Ukraine war in which the group was fighting on behalf of Russia.
Yevgeny Prigozhin had acquired notoriety when he turned his troops against the Russian Miliary in an ill-fated push towards taking over power from Moscow. The Wagner troops had turned back after getting very close to Russia after Prigozhin had a change of mind.
The cause of the rebellion was due to alleged corruption among the top Generals in the Russian Military responsible for the war in Ukraine.
Prigozhin had complained that the actions of the generals was putting the Wagner troops at risk in the war.
The Wagner Group also has presence in Africa in the Central African Republic and Mali. There are reports of the mercenary group having some presence in the troubled West African nation of Niger. The Wagner Group along with Russia is alleged to have expressed support for the junta that seized power in a coup from the democratically elected government in Niger.
This position had directly put the Wagner Group in direct opposite of the position of the Economic Community of West African States (States), the major economic group in West Africa.
The death of Prigozhin, if confirmed would not be totally unexpected as he had directly challenged the hierarchy in Moscow. That act is symbolic but very significant. It gave onus to the feeling that the iron grip of Russian President, Vladimir Putin might not be that strong especially with the war in Ukraine not going fully as planned.