1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Prigozhin: Russia confirms Wagner chief's death with DNA

August 27, 2023

The man behind the Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, is confirmed dead in a plane crash in Russia. Investigators say DNA analysis was used to determine the identity of the victims.

A portrait of the owner of private military company Wagner Group Yevgeny Prigozhin lays at an informal street memorial near the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia
Yevgeny Prigozhin was killed in a plane crash close to MoscowImage: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP/picture alliance

Russian investigators on Sunday confirmed that Yevgeny Prigozhin was among those who died in a plane crash near Moscow earlier this week.

The plane, carrying ten people, crashed in the Tver region north of the Russian capital on August 23.

Prigozhin was the leader of the Wagner private military group, which staged a mutiny against the Kremlin in late June.

Also on the plane was Dmitry Utkin, who founded the Wagner Group.

Russia's Investigation Committee said that the results of genetic tests had confirmed the identities of all ten people who died in the crash.

"Molecular-genetic examinations have been completed as part of the investigation into the plane crash in the Tver region," Investigative Committee spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko said.

"According to their results, the identities of all 10 victims were established, they correspond to the list stated in the flight list," she added.

Prigozhin and Utkin were both on the list of passengers issued by Russia's civil aviation authority.

Russian aviation authorities said the aircraft was flying from Moscow to St. Petersburg before it crashed.

Russian authorities deny foul play

Russian officials opened an investigation into air traffic violations after the incident.

The Investigative Committee on Sunday did not provide further details as to what may have caused the crash.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the incident "tragic" and said that speculation that it was orchestrated by Moscow was an "absolute lie."

Earlier this week, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said that the incident was part a "pattern" of "unclarified fatalities" in Russia. A number of Kremlin critics have died under suspicious circumstances since President Vladimir Putin's rise to power.

Putin called the Wagner mutiny "a stab in the back" in a televised speech after it began, but Prigozhin was allowed to leave for Belarus after calling off the uprising in a deal mediated by Minsk.

On Thursday, Putin called Prigozhin a "talented businessman," but also said he "made serious mistakes in life."

The Wagner Group has been heavily involved in Russia's war in Ukraine, and has also had a substantial presence in western and central Africa.

sdi/ab (AP, Reuters, dpa, AFP)