Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the Wagner Group, a private army in Russia, has reportedly died in a plane crash in the country.
Nine other people reported to be on board the aircraft are also part of the casualties.
According to TASS, Russian state-owned news media, the country’s agency for air transport said Prigozhin was included in the list of passengers of the flight which crashed on Wednesday.
“An investigation of the Embraer plane crash that happened in the Tver Region this evening was initiated. According to the passenger list, first and last name of Yevgeny Prigozhin was included in this list,” TASS quoted the agency as saying.
The plane which had been in flight for less than 30 minutes reportedly caught fire after crashing.
TASS, while quoting emergency services, added that four bodies have been found so far.
PRIGOZHIN, THE SOLDIER WHO REBELLED AGAINST PUTIN
On June 24, Prigozhin mobilised his troops against the country’s military and President Vladmir Putin.
Prigozhin said his fighters had crossed the border from Ukraine into Russia and would destroy anyone in their way, including roadblocks and aircraft.
Wagner, established in 2014, had been fighting alongside the Russian army in Ukraine.
But things took a different turn when Prigozhin accused Russian army of attacking a Wagner camp and killing a “huge amount” of his men.
He promised to take revenge and “stop the evil brought by the military leadership of the country”.
Putin described the mutiny as a “stab in the back” and vowed that anyone involved in the “armed mutiny” would face consequences as traitors of the state.
The Russian leader added that all relevant orders had been given to the military to take “brutal” actions in eliminating the threat that the Wagner group had become.
The mutiny was described as the greatest threat to Putin’s rule since he became Russia’s president in 1999.
In a turn of events, Prigozhin asked his troops to stand down from the insurrection. Dmitry Peskov, presidential spokesperson, said an agreement brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko was struck with the Wagner leader which would see the mercenary move to Belarus in exile.
Weeks after confirming Prigozhin’s “arrival”, Lukashenko said the Wagner boss was still in Russia, and had met with Putin who reportedly promised to re-employ the mutinous soldiers.
The mercenary leader’s whereabouts had been unclear following his rebellious stint until the news of the plane crash broke.
His last reported location appeared to be in Africa, when he posted his first video address since his uprising in Russia.
Prigozhin said Wagner was recruiting people, adding that the group would fulfil its commitments of setting Africa free.
Russia had condemned the military intervention proposal by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to restore democratic rule in Niger Republic following the coup, and backed dialogue instead.
However, the Wagner leader had hailed the coup leaders and applauded the people of Niger for taking their destiny into their hands.