Russian officials have claimed Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin was on an ill-fated plane which crashed in a field north of Moscow, killing all ten onboard, two months after his failed coup attempt against Putin’s regime. 

The Federal Air Transport Agency published a list of all those it believed were onboard the private jet, including Prigozhin, his deputy Dmitry Utkin and five others, believed to be close allies.

Prigozhin, known as Putin’s chef and with longstanding links to the Kremlin dictator, has long been thought to be a prime target for Russian authorities after his uprising failed and he was exiled to Belarus.

Ten bodies have been retrieved from the wreckage, local emergency services have said, but MailOnline is unable to independently verify whether Prigozhin was one of them. 

Reports of a second plane, also linked to Prigozhin, in the area at the time of the crash that later flew to Moscow has fuelled suggestions the warlord cheated death by travelling in a different plane or even that it may be his ruse to escape into exile. 

Both state media and Telegram accounts affiliated to Wagner have reported Prigozhin’s and Utkin’s deaths. 

While the fate of his bitter rival remained unknown, the Russian President enjoyed a WW2 memorial concert and handed out military honours in Kursk, Russia. 

Washington confirmed on Wednesday evening that President Biden has been briefed, and the UK government confirmed it was ‘monitoring the situation closely’. 

The plane crash comes amid news that:

It was initially unknown if Wagner chief Prigozhin (pictured in a video reportedly filmed in Africa which was released on Monday) – known as the Wagner chief and with longstanding links to the Kremlin dictator – was on board 

The plane, which had Prigozhin named as a passenger on its flight list, was later reported to be engulfed in fire, as images on social media claimed to show the wreckage

A man lights a candle at an informal memorial next to the former Wagner Centre in St Petersburg, which has been scattered with dozens of flowers

Witnesses to the crash heard a loud bang before they saw the jet ‘fall from the sky’ – locals on social media are sharing these images of the aftermath, although it is unconfirmed at this stage if this is the plane 

The Russian Investigative Committee released a photo of the alleged crash site on Wednesday after the blaze had been extinguished

Wagner deputy and co-founder Dmitry Utkin is also claimed to have been killed in the crash

Prigozhin’s public appearances in two months since his failed coup against Putin’s regime 

JUNE 23 Prigozhin announces a ‘march for justice’ to stop the ‘evil being spread by the country’s military leadership’. 

In a series of audio recordings posted on the Telegram messaging service, he announces his 25,000 soldiers will march on Moscow, adding: ‘Wagner’s commanders have come to a decision. This is not a military coup. It is a march for justice.’ 

JUNE 24 Prigozhin says his fighters have captured the army headquarters in Rostov-on-Don ‘without firing a single shot’ and claims to have the support of locals. 

But that evening, he suddenly announces a withdrawal, saying on Telegram: ‘Now is the moment when blood could be spilled. We are turning our convoy around.’ He then disappears from public view for nearly three days.

JUNE 27 Prigozhin breaks his silence to deny his march was a coup, saying: ‘We didn’t have the goal of toppling the existing regime, which is lawfully elected, as we have said many times.’ 

JULY 3 Prigozhin calls on the Russian public to stand up for Wagner paramilitaries as the group continues to recruit troops for the war in Ukraine. 

JULY 6 Selfies of Prigozhin in various wigs and disguises are published by Russia’s security services to weaken his fearsome public image. 

JULY 14 A photo of Prigozhin sitting in his underpants on an unmade bed in a tent is leaked online. Data attached to the photo shows it was taken on June 12 – 11 days before he announced the armed rebellion. 

JULY 19 In a video filmed in a field, Prigozhin says: ‘What’s happening on the front is a disgrace that we don’t need to take part in. So a decision has been taken that we will be here in Belarus for some time,’ before ‘heading off for Africa’. 

JULY 27 Prigozhin is photographed on the sidelines of the Russia-Africa summit in St Petersburg, shaking hands with Freddy Mapouka, chief of protocol for the Central African Republic’s president. 


Video footage purportedly shows the aircraft falling out of the sky in the Bologovsky district in the Tver region, 60 miles north of Moscow on Friday. A burning wreckage, which appears to be of a plane, was later seen in a field, with unconfirmed images showing it completely ablaze. 

Prigozhin, 62, has been increasingly careful since he led a coup against Putin’s regime exactly two months ago.

After its failure, he had been warned that his life was in danger. He was known to take huge care over his security and is rumoured to have not been onboard the fateful plane, despite state TV asserting otherwise.

Sources close to him said that while the aircraft belonged to him, he usually flew on another aircraft.

Another plane, also supposedly with links to Prigozhin, was detected ‘zig-zagging’ over Moscow in the aftermath of the crash, fuelling speculation that the Wagner boss may not have been onboard after all.

Tracking data available for the crashed plane appears to show it rise to around 29,000ft, before suddenly disappearing and dropping to 0ft. 

A channel linked to Wagner said the plane had been shot down by air defences, but this has not yet been confirmed.

A Telegram channel thought to be linked to Prigozhin also said their leader had died, saying he had been ‘killed as a result of actions by traitors of Russia’. 

A post described him as a ‘hero of Russia, a true patriot of his Motherland’. 

Wagner deputy and co-founder Dmitry Utkin, widely reported to be a neo-Nazi, is also claimed to have been killed in the crash.

One of the other passengers said to have died, Valeriy Chekalov, has previously been sanctioned by the US due to his links to the Wagner group. 

A Wagner address last night stated: ‘We directly say that we suspect the Kremline officials led by Putin of an attempt to kill him!’, the Sun reported.

‘If the information about Prigozhin’s death is confirmed, we will organise a second March of Justice on Moscow!’ 

Russian State TV Rossiya24 was the first to announce warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin’s death, stating: ‘A private jet flying from Moscow to St Petersburg crashed.

‘Ten people were killed. Yevgeny Prigozhin was among the passengers.’

Ultranationalist pro-war TV channel Tsargrad said the bodies of Yevgeny Prigozhin and fellow military warlord Dmitry Utkin had been identified at the crash site. A genetic analysis was still to be carried out, and authorities have started an investigation, state media reports.

However, Keir Giles, a Russia expert with international affairs think-tank Chatham House, urged caution about reports of Prigozhin’s death.

He said ‘multiple individuals have changed their name to Yevgeniy Prigozhin, as part of his efforts to obfuscate his travels’.

‘Let’s not be surprised if he pops up shortly in a new video from Africa,’ Mr Giles said.

Witnesses to the crash heard a loud bang before they saw the jet ‘fall from the sky’.

Images shared on social media purport to show the burning wreckage of the plane in a field in the Tver region, and Russian media says eight bodies have so far been recovered. 

Plumes of black smoke can be seen bellowing into the sky, with the wreck completely engulfed in flames. 

The numbers 795 can just about be made out on the edge of the scrap pile, which matches the plane linked to the ex-military leader. 

Russian police officers have since sealed roads approaching the crash site as a criminal investigation gets underway. 

US national security spokesperson Adrienne Watson said the possible death of Prigozhin would not be a surprise given his history with Putin.

‘We have seen the reports’ of the crash and if confirmed, ‘no-one should be surprised,’ she said.

President Joe Biden told reporters: ‘I don’t know for a fact what happened, but I’m not surprised.’

A Telegram channel with links to Wagner announced Prigozhin’s death on Friday evening

Police officers block a road near the site of crash of a private jet linked to Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin in the Tver region on Friday night

A Russian law enforcement officer stands guard near the site of a plane crash near the village of Kuzhenkino

Road blocks were set up close to the scene, and armed officers were seen guarding the site

News agency Readovka – linked to Prigozhin – said it was ‘premature’ to say he had died in the incident

Images shared online purported to show the jet, believed to be carrying the Russian chief, falling to the ground as it crashed in the Tver region in Russia 

It was claimed a video showed the plane flying in the Tver region before crashing towards the ground (right)

Plumes of smoke from the blaze, said to be of the plane, could be seen for miles around, video on social media shows

Firefighters rush to the scene of the blaze, believed to be Prigozhin’s plane

Ten bodies have been recovered from the wreckage, said to be pictured above, Russian officials have said

A report from Rosaviatsiya – the Russian aviation agency – said Prigozhin was among the passengers

Prigozhin has had long-established links to the Kremlin and until recently led the Wagner mercenary unit

Former Russian presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak said: ‘My sources report that an Embraer plane belonging to Yevgeny Prigozhin has now crashed in the Tver region. 

‘This happened 15 kilometres from Khotilovo. According to our information, there were three crew members and seven passengers.

‘Whether Prigozhin himself was on board is unknown.’

Sobchak is known as Putin’s ‘goddaughter’ due to his loyalty to the regime.

But news agency Readovka – linked to Prigozhin – said it was ‘premature’ to say he had died. He regularly ‘confused everyone’ by changing his travel plans at the last minute, the agency said.

A source claimed: ‘The infrastructure [of the plane] was not damaged, the tail fell off in one settlement, everything else in another.

‘The wing also fell off, we don’t know yet what and where. Three people, the pilots, are torn to pieces, to pieces.

‘The rest are in the tail section. Four bodies were picked open, and then it is still not clear. The plane burned out completely.

‘Only the front part, windows and a piece of hardware remained, and a piece of the engine is lying on one wing. Everything else burned out.’

Russian officials said of the ten bodies found, one of them had its head separated from its shoulders. 

A video shared widely on social media claimed to show the aircraft ablaze

One local woman said she saw parts of the plane fall off as it plunged from the sky.

Who do flight records show was onboard doomed plane? 

  • Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of the Wagner Group
  • Dmitry Utkin, its co-founder
  • Sergey Propustin
  • Yevgeny Makaryan
  • Alexander Totmin
  • Valeriy Chekalov
  • Nikolay Matuseev

Plus crew members: 

  • Aleksei Levshin, commander
  • Rustam Karimov, co-pilot
  • Kristina Raspopova, flight attendant

A second plane belonging to Prigozhin, the same aircraft said to be flying zigzags close to Moscow, was later reported to have landed in the capital.

Prigozhin had been warned not to go into high buildings for fear of accidents after leading a coup aimed at ousting especially defence minister Sergei Shoigu and army chief Gen Valery Gerasimov.

He is known to have used body doubles as part of his elaborate security measures.

Commenting on the crash, military analyst Sean Bell told Sky News: ‘After that abortive coup, I don’t think any of us expected Prigozhin’s life expectancy to be more than I think we predicted three months. It looks like it’s two months.’

He later said the incident could even be a stunt by Prigozhin himself in order to allow him to disappear into a peaceful exile. 

At the time of the crash, a smirking Putin – who rarely travels to the Russian regions – was in Kursk, close to Ukraine, marking the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Kursk in WW2.

At the event, Putin gave awards to the military, including the top honour – Hero of Russia.

Prigozhin, whose private military force Wagner fought alongside Russia’s regular army in Ukraine, mounted a short-lived armed mutiny against Russia’s military leadership in late June. 

Wagner chief Prigozhin (pictured in March this year) became one of the most feared men in Russia during his military career

A local woman said she saw parts of the plane, said to be pictured above, fall off as it plunged from the sky

The jet linked to the Wagner chief has previously flown members of his team around Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the victory in the Battle of Kursk

Russian President Putin was tonight pictured at a concert in Kursk

The grand event in Kursk saw Putin hand out military offers, as his biggest rival’s fate remained unknown

His paramilitary unit had been associated with some of the worst atrocities of the conflict in Ukraine, but Prigozhin’s relationship with the Kremlin broke down over high mortality rates, lack of equipment and lack of wages.

The Russian warlord had previously threatened to withdraw troops from frontline positions if he was not given the supplies he demanded from Putin.

The Wagner Group saw some of the worst fighting in the months leading up to June, with numbers so depleted that Prigozhin recruited thousands of dangerous convicted criminals straight out of prison to join his forces.

In late June, Prigozhin launched an unprecedented verbal attack on President Putin and his allies before marching 25,000 troops towards Moscow.

Having taken the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, the army marched north for several hours, forcing the capital into lockdown, before an agreement between him and the government was reached. 

The mutiny was ended by negotiations and an apparent Kremlin deal which saw Prigozhin agree to relocate to neighbouring Belarus. But he had appeared to move freely inside Russia after the deal nonetheless.

Shortly after that, Wagner fighters set up camp in Belarus, but Prigozhin’s plane, according to media reports, was flying back and forth between Belarus and Russia.

This week Prigozhin posted his first recruitment video since the mutiny, saying that Wagner is conducting reconnaissance and search activities, and ‘making Russia even greater on all continents, and Africa even more free’.

Prigozhin, who had sought to topple Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Valery Gerasimov, chief of the general staff, had posted the video address just this Monday – but the date of the shoot is unknown.