Losses and Aviation Safety

Wagner chief Prigozhin dead in Embraer Legacy 600 corporate jet crash northwest of Moscow

Wagner chief Prigozhin dead

The Russian Federal Air Transport Agency said that Yevgeny Prigozhin, the chief of Russian mercenary group Wagner who staged a short-lived mutiny against Russia’s military leadership in June, was on board an Embraer Legacy 600 corporate jet that crashed northwest of Moscow on Aug. 23, 2023.

According to the official state news agency TASS, the Federal Air Transport Agency said in a statement that “An investigation has been launched into the crash of the Embraer aircraft, which occurred tonight in the Tver region. According to the list of passengers, among them is the name and surname of Yevgeny Prigozhin.”

The Russian Ministry of Emergency Services said that there were seven passengers and three crew members on board the private Embraer jet when it crashed near the village of Kuzhenkino, in the Tver region, on Wednesday. All on board were killed, according to preliminary information, the ministry said, adding that they “are conducting search operations.”

CNN reports that according to the list of passengers shared by the Russian aviation agency, among those on the plane were Utkin Dmitriy, a trusted lieutenant of Prigozhin’s since Wagner was formed, and Prigozhin’s senior aide Valeriy Chekalov.

State media outlet Russia 24 reported that the bodies of eight people have been found at the crash site. The plane “burned up” on impact after being in the air for about half an hour, TASS reported earlier.

A criminal case following the crash has been initiated by Russian investigators. A team was on the way to the scene to “establish the causes of the crash,” the Russian Investigative Committee said.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the chief of Russian mercenary group Wagner

Prigozhin challenged Russian President Vladimir Putin

Prigozhin launched a brief rebellion that posed an unprecedented challenge to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s authority a few months ago. Then it was suddenly called off in a deal that required the Wagner chief and his fighters to relocate to Belarus.

Wagner forces were heavily involved in capturing the eastern Ukrainian cities of Soledar and Bakhmut following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year. Prigozhin then spent months criticizing Russian military leadership and the support it was giving his troops before he called for the armed rebellion.

The plane that crashed north of Moscow “is a manifestation of Putin’s Russia,” a senior Ukrainian official close to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN on Wednesday.

The senior Ukrainian official was echoed by US President Joe Biden who suggested Putin may have been behind the crash. “You may recall, I was asked about this,” Biden told CNN.

‘System Putin’

‘System Putin’ is behind the crash according to The Aviation Geek Club contributor and world famous modern military aviation author Tom Cooper:

“The guy fell out of the window… or down the stairs….or down the stairs and then out of the window…. or crashed in an aircraft….or fell out of a window of an aircraft…or he was falling so fast, the guys shooting at him couldn’t hit him any more…. or not at all….nobody can know for sure: that’s System Putin.”

As news of the crash broke, Putin was taking part in an event hundreds of miles away from the site, in the Kursk region, to mark the anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany there.

A still from the video showing Prigozhin Embraer Legacy 600 corporate jet crash

Wagner chief Prigozhin plane falled out of the sky

Video published by Russian state media outlet RIA Novosti showed a plane falling out of the sky with one wing missing. As CNN reports is impossible to confirm the authenticity of the video, but RIA Novosti claimed it was the moment that an Embraer jet fell from the sky over the Tver region.

A separate footage, also released by RIA Novosti, purports to show plane engine debris at the crash site. Visible on the still-burning engine debris are the last four digits of a registration number: 2795. Prigozhin’s plane is registered as RA-02795.

Russian officials said that the aircraft stopped transmitting data shortly after 6 p.m. local time and crashed near the village of Kuzhenkino. It departed Moscow and was en route to St. Petersburg.

Flight data shows the Prigozhin-linked plane reached an altitude of some 28,000 feet before publicly available flight tracking data suddenly stopped transmitting southwest of the city of Tver.

However, according to FlightRadar24 data is “likely incomplete” due to the way flight data near Moscow is collected.

The business jets Legacy 600 and Legacy 650 are based on the Embraer ERJ 135 regional airliner. The ERJ-135 is a shortened development of the 50 seat ERJ-145 and seats 37 passengers.

It’s a twin-engine regional jet. The Long Range (LR) version of the ERJ 135 can carry a full load of passengers up to 1,750 nm (3,243 km).

Prigozhin Embraer Legacy 600 corporate jet wreckage
Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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