Prigozhin plane crash may have been deliberate – Kremlin
Russian investigators are not ruling out foul play in the plane crash that killed Wagner boss Evgeny Prigozhin, and will consider every possible scenario, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has told journalists.
“It is obvious that different versions exist and are being considered. Among them is the one [involving a] deliberate atrocity,” he said on Wednesday, urging the media to wait for official updates from investigators.
Asked about a Reuters report, which claimed that Moscow had declined an offer of assistance from the Brazilian aviation authority, Peskov said there could be no discussion on any international aspect and indicated that the investigation would be conducted domestically.
The business jet that crashed in Tver Region last Wednesday was produced by Brazilian plane manufacturer Embraer. All ten people on board were killed, including the Wagner boss and some of his closest associates.
Since the flight was domestic, Russia is not obliged to investigate the crash under international rules, Reuters noted in its report. International incidents are normally scrutinized under the authority of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and involve the manufacturer.
“If they say they’ll open the investigation and invite Brazil, we will participate from afar,” Air Brigadier Marcelo Moreno, who heads Brazil’s Center for Research and Prevention of Aeronautical Accidents (CENIPA), told the news agency.
Prigozhin’s death came two months after he staged a brief mutiny, marching his Wagner Private Military Company forces towards Moscow with the stated goal of replacing top military commanders.
Russian president Vladimir Putin branded him a traitor at the time, but agreed to a deal in the interests of avoiding major bloodshed. This allowed Prigozhin and his loyalists to leave Russia. Putin has repeatedly stressed that most Wagner members were patriots, whose service on the battlefield made them heroes.
Some Western media have claimed that Moscow may have been behind the plane crash in which Prigozhin died. The Kremlin has dismissed such “speculation” as “a total lie,” while Putin has promised a thorough investigation of the incident.