Russian State Media Says Wagner Group Honcho Yevgeny Prigozhin Is Dead; What Comes Next?


Just a few hours ago a Brazilian-made Embraer Legacy 600 executive jet carrying seven passengers and three crew members went down near Kuzhenkino, Tver Region, Russia. The dead included Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of Wagner Group PMC. See WATCH: PMC Wagner Boss Prigozhin Reportedly Killed in 'Plane Crash'.


Like any other high profile death in Putin's Russia, this story has a lot of interesting angles. It is also like wandering around inside a house of mirrors.

How Did It Happen

At 3:11 pm GMT, 11:11 am EDT, the Embraer jet carrying Prigozhin from Moscow to St. Petersburg disappeared from radar. Video taken of the incident records two loud booms and the jet falling minus a wing.

There is another video circulating that claims to the Prigozhin's plane.

This video is of a Russian aircraft shot down by Wagner Group during their short-lived mutiny in June. 

Sources as varied as Wagner Group-affiliated Telegram channels, the Washington Post, and Newsweek speculate that Prigozhin's jet was shot down. By today, Russian sources were actively pushing a mishmash of "bomb on the plane" scenarios.


The "wine box" theory is gaining traction which means it is almost certainly false.

Who was On Board

The plane not only carried Prigozhin but also some of its senior leadership.

Dmitry Utkin 

Utkin is the founder and ground commander of Wagner Group, which gets its name from Utkin's callsign, Wagner. He's most notable for his Bond-villain looks, and the Nazi insignia tattooed on him.

Valery Chekalov

Essentially, Chekalov was Wagner's chief operating officer.


Yevgeny Makaryan

A  member of Prigozhin's security detail.

Sergei Propustin

A member, and probably the chief, of Prigozhin's security detail.

Nikolai Matuseyev

A member of Prigozhin's security detail.

Alexander Totmin

A member of Prigozhin's security detail.



Wagner fighters are vowing revenge but talk is cheap. Without a member of Putin's inner circle as their chieftain, Wagner Group will quickly evaporate.

The reaction we should monitor will become more evident over the coming weeks as oligarchs and members of the ruling Kremlin clique process the willingness of Putin to openly kill a longtime associate and confidant. It doesn't make any difference if Putin did order the hit, there isn't anyone in Russia who believes he didn't.

Of Note

This is not the first time that Prigozhin has died in a plane crash. Prigozhin was on the manifest for the Congolese Air Force An-72 providing support for the Conglese president in 2019. That plane just dropped off the radar.

The timing of the plane "crash" wasn't lost on anyone. On June 23, Prigozhin led his Wagner Group fighters in what was either a mutiny or coup attempt;  Russia Faces Either a Military Mutiny or Coup D’Etat From Wagner PMC Boss.


Also yesterday, General Sergei Surovikin, commander of Russia's Aerospace Forces was dismissed. Surovikin was a former commander of Russian forces n Ukraine, though it is rather difficult to keep up with their comings and goings, and was the mastermind behind the Maginot Surovikin Line constructed to defend Occupied Southern Ukraine from a Ukrainian counterattack. Surovikin is believed to have either actively supported the mutiny/coup by Wagner Group or to have known it was about to happen and stood aside. This is seen as a final settling of accounts.

Grigory Yudin, head of political philosophy at the Moscow School of Social and Economic Scientists, said: “The internal investigation of the mutiny is completed. Surovikin was dismissed yesterday, and the culprits have been executed.”

Yudin added: “It took them two months to investigate it, make the verdict and execute it. Had they concluded that Surovikin was part of the plot, he would have been on the plane too.”

“The crisis has been dealt with quickly and effectively,” said Andrei Soldatov, a senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis and co-author of several books about Russia’s security services. Soldatov said Putin had taken time to deal with Prigozhin’s assets and punish hardliners before exacting his ultimate revenge.



The Russian government seems to have decided that Wagner's corporate profile is too high for it to be trusted under new management. For the past month or so, Russian officials have been touting Redut PMC as their brand of choice for work in Afica. We can expect Redut to absorb Wagner's commercial ventures in Africa along with its role in the fighting.


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