President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky told everyone who was behind the plane crash, Wagner’s boss. Photo/Reuters
KYIV – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that his country was not involved in a plane crash in Russia’s northwestern Tver region that killed 10 aboard, including Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin.
While speaking at a press conference with his Portuguese counterpart Marcelo Rebelo de Souza in the capital Kyiv, Zelensky said Ukraine had “nothing to do” with the incident. “I think everyone knows who is involved,” he was quoted as saying by Ukrainian public broadcaster Suspilne.
Later, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak revealed that the plane crash linked to Prigozhin was the “demonstrative killing” of a man who was once an insider who dared to challenge the Kremlin.
Speaking to Russia’s independent TV channel Rain, he said the incident was intended as “intimidation” for some of the Russian elite who are “a bit disloyal to Putin.”
Podolyak speculated that turbulent times were coming for those in the Russian president’s inner circle. “Putin has shown that he will question the loyalty of every member of his entourage, even those closest to him,” he said.
Ukrainian officials have largely refrained from commenting on the incident, and Prigozhin’s fate remains officially unknown.
Earlier, Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency said that an Embraer-135 plane crashed in Russia’s Tver region while traveling from Moscow to St. Petersburg. Petersburg, killing all 10 passengers on board, including three crew members.
The agency later released a list of names of individuals who were on board the plane, which included Prigozhin, Wagner co-founder Dmitry Utkin, and other Wagner personnel.
An investigation into the incident was launched by the agency, while the Russian Investigative Committee said in a statement on Telegram that it was initiating a criminal case on the grounds of “violation of the rules of traffic safety and the operation of air transport.”
Prigozhin made headlines in June when he launched an “armed uprising” against the Russian leadership before it was promptly called off following a deal brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.