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Russian investigators officially confirm death of Wagner chief in plane crash after genetic test

Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner military group

Russia’s Investigative Committee has officially confirmed that Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner military group, was killed in a plane crash last week.

The committee's spokesperson Svetlana Petrenko made the announcement in a statement on Sunday, saying the results of genetic tests had confirmed his identity.

According to the committee, after forensic testing, all 10 bodies recovered at the site had been identified, and their identities “conform to the manifest”.

“As part of the investigation of the plane crash in the Tver region, molecular genetic examinations have been completed. According to their results, the identities of all ten dead people have been established, they correspond to the list stated in the flight sheet,” the investigators said in an official statement. 

Earlier on Wednesday, Russian media said a plane crashed in the northwest of the country, with the name of Prigozhin being on the list of passengers onboard.

"A private Embraer Legacy plane crashed en route from Moscow to St. Petersburg in the Tver region, near the Kuzhenkino village. There were 10 people on board, including 3 crew members. According to preliminary information, everyone on board was killed," the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations said in a statement.

Russia’s Federal Agency for Air Transport announced earlier that an investigation had been launched into the crash, which left ten people killed.

Russia’s civil aviation authority said earlier this week that Prigozhin, along with some of his top lieutenants, including his deputy and close associate Dmitry Utkin, were on the list of those on board the plane.

Prigozhin led a short-lived armed mutiny against the Russian military leadership in June. 

The mutiny, which lasted less than 24 hours, came to an end after the Wagner leader agreed to turn his troops back on their path to the Russian capital, following negotiations with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko aimed at de-escalating the situation.

In an audio message posted on Telegram on June 23, Prigozhin accused Russia’s military top brass of ordering a rocket attack on the group's field camps in Ukraine -- where Russia has been conducting a military operation -- killing "huge numbers” of his paramilitary forces. Authorities in Moscow, however, strongly denied his claim.

Following the deal, the Kremlin announced that Russia had dropped a criminal case previously filed against the head of the Wagner group.

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