Russian investigators on Sunday confirmed the death of the leader of the Wagner mercenary group, Eugene Prigojine, in a plane crash last Wednesday, citing genetic tests indicating his identity.

Prigozhin’s name was among those of 10 passengers on the flight manifest of the private jet, which crashed in Russia’s Tver region while traveling from Moscow to St Petersburg.

Wagner supporters hoped the mercenary leader, who staged an abortive coup against Russian President Vladimir Putin in June, was still alive.

But in a statement published on the Telegram messaging service on Sunday, the Russian investigative committee said the identities of all passengers on the plane had been confirmed by “molecular and genetic examinations”.

A former loyalist dubbed “Putin’s boss” for his role as catering manager supplying the Kremlin, Prigozhin has grown embittered at the Russian government’s handling of the war in Ukraine. After Prigozhin’s short-lived capture of the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don and his march on Moscow, Putin accused Wagner’s boss of “treason”.

Although the Russian president offered his condolences to Prigozhin’s family on Thursday, there is widespread speculation that his government is responsible for the death of the mercenary leader. US officials said this week there was no evidence a missile shot down the plane, but left open the possibility that a bomb was detonated on board the plane.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky last week denied Kyiv’s involvement in the crash.

Russia launched new aerial attacks on northern and central Ukraine on Sunday; at least two injuries and some damage were reported in the Kyiv region.

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Source : zaidakram

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