Investigators trawl site of Russian jet crash


Investigators on Thursday picked through the wreckage of a jet said to have been carrying Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin that crashed with no survivors.

Investigators opened a criminal probe but there was no official word on what may have caused Wednesday evening's crash, or even official confirmation of Prigozhin's death beyond a statement from the aviation authority saying he was on board.

The Kremlin and the Defence Ministry also made no comment on the fate of Prigozhin, 62, head of the Wagner mercenary group and a self-declared enemy of the army top brass over what he said was its incompetent prosecution of Russia's war in Ukraine.

President Vladimir Putin made a virtual statement to a summit of the BRICS nations in South Africa which his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, was attending. Neither referenced the plane crash in which 10 people were said to have been killed.

The Embraer Legacy 600 executive jet, which had been flying from Moscow to St. Petersburg and was reported to have also been carrying senior members of Prigozhin's team, crashed near the village of Kuzhenkino in the Tver region north of Moscow.

A Reuters reporter at the crash site on Thursday morning saw men carrying away black body bags on stretchers.

Part of the plane's tail and other fragments lay on the ground near a wooded area where forensic investigators had erected a tent.

Residents of Kuzhenkino said they had heard a bang and then saw the jet plummet to the ground. The plane showed no sign of a problem until a precipitous drop in its final 30 seconds, according to flight-tracking data.


"The first thing I believe is that this man committed the most serious crimes possible for a military man to commit," a woman who gave her name only as Yelena told Reuters on the streets of Moscow.

"I think his safety was only guaranteed in exchange for him stopping what he started. But he didn't stop."

A man who only gave his name as Boris said: "This man was, in fact, a master of illusions. Maybe he didn't die. No one knows yet. They won't show the funeral or the body."

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