On Sunday, Russian authorities said that genetic testing confirmed Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin was killed in an August 23 plane crash in Russia’s Tver Oblast.
“As part of the investigation into the plane crash in the Tver Region, molecular genetic examinations have been completed. According to their results, the identities of all 10 victims have been established. They correspond to the list stated in the flight manifest,” the Russian Investigative Committee said in a statement, according to Russia’s TASS news agency.
When the first plane crashed, Russia’s Air Transport Authority said the list of passengers included Prigozhin and Dmitry Utkin, a Wagner commander who was believed to be a co-founder of the mercenary group and Prigozhin’s deputy.
The Russian Investigative Committee did not say what caused the crash. On Friday, the Kremlin denied Western claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the killing of Prigozhin in retaliation for his short-lived mutiny that took place in June.
“Now, naturally, there are many speculations over this plane crash and the tragic death of the passengers, including Yevgeny Prigozhin. Of course, the West is selling these speculations from a certain angle. All of them are absolute lies,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
US officials speaking to media outlets said a preliminary intelligence assessment concluded an “intentional explosion” caused the plane crash, but the claim is not confirmed.
The day after the plane crash, Putin offered condolences and said a few words about Prigozhin. “I have known Prigozhin for a long time, since the 1990s. He made some serious mistakes in life, but he also achieved the necessary results for himself but also for the greater good when I asked him. He was a talented man, a talented businessman,” the Russian leader said.