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Fact check: Does this video show Prigozhin's plane crash?

Published August 25, 2023last updated August 27, 2023

A video that is allegedly of Prigozhin's plane on fire before crashing has been shared thousands of times on social media. DW checked whether it was real.

DW Fact Check with False Verdict
The video allegedly showing Prigozhin's plane crash was published in June in a different context.Image: Twitter/@anny25717503

Many analysts and politicians were treading carefully around the news that the leader of the Wagner mercenary force, Yevgeny Prigozhin, was dead after a plane thought to be carrying him crashed in Russia.

While Moscow's aviation authority has confirmed that Prigozhin was on board the plane, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered his condolences to Prigozhin's family,  EU officials have shied away from confirming the news, saying reports are difficult to verify.

French officials spoke of "considerable doubts" and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock warned against drawing "quick conclusions."

"Hardly anything that comes out of Russia these days is credible," said Peter Stano,a European Commission spokesman for foreign affairs.

Yevgeny Prigozhin
Many are avoiding speculation about the reported death of the leader of the Wagner mercenary force, Yevgeny Prigozhin.Image: Press service of "Concord"/REUTERS

He added that it would be "pure speculation" to comment on the possible political consequences of Prigozhin's death.

Social media platforms, meanwhile, have been rife with speculation and misinformation. One video in particular has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times.

Russian investigators issued confirmation of Prigozhin's death on August 27, just four days after the much-discussed crash.

Prigozhin's jet on fire?

Claim: "Wagner boss Prigozhin jet on fire before crashing", says this Twitter user, who shared a video of an airplane engulfed in flames, plummeting to the ground. Other users on various social media platforms, such as this person on Facebook, followed suit and shared the same video.

DW fact check: False.

The video in question predates the plane crash, which killed Prigozhin this week.

An image reverse search of a still taken from the video reveals links to footage, such as this post on Twitter, that was published in June.

Image reverse search
An image reverse search provides clues as to whether the video in question was published at an earlier date.Image: DW

The caption on the video published by Ukraine 24/7, which describes itself as "Ukraine's largest Telegram channel," speaks of a Russian Air Force plane that was shot down by Wagner mercenaries in the Russian city of Voronezh.

The publication date is June 24, which is a day after Prigozhin and his Wagner group staged a short-lived mutiny against Putin that ended with a deal.

On that same day, footage also emerged on Telegram showing what the user described as "unprecedented footage" of a Russian plane falling from the sky.

The video published in August, purportedly showing Prigozhin's plane, and the video published in June, which refers to the crash in Voronezh, are remarkably similar, if not the same.

Conclusion: This suggests that the video that is now being shared on social media with the claim that it shows Prigozhin's plane crash is fake. In actual fact, the video is older and shows a different crash.

Edited by: Joscha Weber

This article was updated on August 27, 2023, after Russian investigators confirmed Yevgeny Prigozhin's death.