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What’s behind the crash of the plane with prigozhin

What’s behind the crash of the plane with prigozhin

The information about the death of the odious owner of the “wagner” PMC, prigozhin, has been confirmed by an increasing number of russian sources. According to the russian federal air transport agency, on August, 23, an Embraer plane flying from moscow to st. petersburg crashed in the tver region. Among the 10 dead, the passenger list included the head of the  “wagner” PMC, prigozhin, and his “right hand man”, utkin. Judging by the video of eyewitnesses, the plane disintegrated in midair after two explosions. This suggests that the plane could have been shot down by the russian S-300 air defence system or destroyed by explosives on board.

Who exactly could have been interested in the physical removal of prigozhin?

The most likely version of the incident is that putin was “cleaning up” all the wagnerians who had compromised themselves by participating in the rebellion and who, on the eve of the election campaign, could have disclosed embarrassing details of the PMC’s participation in the fighting in Ukraine and details of the kremlin’s “dirty” dealings on the African continent. It is not without reason that prigozhin’s associates and partners, who knew too much about the kremlin’s “African affairs”, died in the crash. For example, prigozhin’s deputy, v.chekalov, owned a gas and oil production company in Syria, fighter of the PMC o.tomin fought in Sudan, and wagner’s je.makaryan and s.propustin were listed on the Ukrainian website Myrotvorets as involved in crimes in Ukraine. In addition, with the death of prigozhin, the investigation into the illegal financing of PMCs from the federal budget of the russian federation is made impossible. The version suggests that after the coup attempt, putin no longer considered prigozhin a “reliable person” and his physical elimination was the logical conclusion of the kremlin regime’s usual tactics. By the way, the chief of the Main Dictorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, K. Budanov, stated that the russian fss had received a task to kill the PMC leader after the coup attempt.

Another version suggests that prigozhin was killed on shoigu’s orders in retaliation for his devastating criticism of the leadership of the russian armed forces. The confrontation between prigozhin and the army generals has been escalating since the Syrian events due to the attempts of the ministry of defence of russia to take control of the PMC. And after the ministry’s leadership refused to acknowledge the mercenaries’ merits in the fighting in eastern Ukraine, prigozhin became one of the harshest critics of the defence minister shoigu and chief of the general staff gerasimov. The situation finally got out of hand on the night of June, 23, when, demanding shoigu’s dismissal and arrest, a convoy of mercenaries marched on moscow, shooting down two helicopters and one plane, killing up to 15 russian soldiers. So, although formally pardoned, putin made it clear to his entourage that he was no longer under his protection, so shoigu had every opportunity to physically destroy the wagnerian. 

Also, the elimination of prigozhin could be revenge from “third” parties for dangerous and destabilising operations that the “wagner” PMC is conducting or has conducted abroad, such as in Ukraine, Syria, Sudan, Libya and Mozambique. The wagner’s crimes against the civilian population of these countries and participation in military coups are a real reason to organise the elimination of the PMC leader abroad.

We cannot rule out the possibility that the russian intelligence services staged the death of prigozhin, who might not have been on the plane. After all, neither the russian authorities nor the US intelligence services have officially confirmed the death of prigozhin. It is known that the founder of the PMC and the commander of the wagnerians had “doubles” who officially changed their surname, name and patronymic and became their full namesakes, having received the appropriate passports. For example, the full namesake of d.utkin headed the company “Concord management and consulting”, which belonged to prigozhin. And during searches in prigozhin’s house, security forces found fake passports issued in the names of other people, but with his photo. As you know, in 2019, there was already “information” that prigozhin had crashed in the Congo. So, with this “cover-up” operation, putin could take his chef friend out of the spotlight.

How will the death of prigozhin affect Ukraine?

From a military point of view, the destruction of prigozhin will have little impact on the war in Ukraine, as the “wagner” PMC has been effectively disbanded, and with the loss of its leader, it has finally lost its combat potential. On the other hand, if the terrorist cause of his death is proved, it will hit putin’s image and prove to russians and the international community that russia has finally turned into a gangster state where the authorities continue to kill political opponents. In addition, the involvement of the authorities in the murder of prigozhin could spoil putin’s relations with the Belarusian authorities, as lukashenko personally provided the PMC leader with “security guarantees” after the coup.

❗️Despite of the circumstances of the crash and whether or not prigozhin himself was on board, the crash dealt a powerful blow to putin’s image, as it showed that he was not in control of the situation in the country and that russia was on the verge of a major internal crisis. This event may intensify the power struggle between the kremlin’s “towers” and start the process of collapse of the putin system.

  • 24 August, 2023

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