MOSCOW (Agencies): Russian authorities, including the Investigative Committee, have officially confirmed the demise of Evgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the private military company Wagner Group.

The confirmation comes after DNA testing was conducted on the bodies of all those aboard the ill-fated Embraer 135BJ Legacy 600 plane, which tragically crashed in Tver Region during its flight from Moscow to St. Petersburg.

In an official statement released on Sunday, Svetlana Petrenko, Chief Spokesperson for the Investigative Committee, announced that DNA testing had been completed on the remains of all 10 individuals on the flight manifest, and their identities corresponded to the passenger list.

Among those listed were not only Prigozhin but also other prominent members of the Wagner Group, such as Dmitry Utkin, often referred to as the co-founder of the private military company, and Valery Chekalov, who was widely recognized as the head of logistics for the group. Additionally, the flight crew, including two pilots and an air hostess, were confirmed to have lost their lives.

Evgeny Prigozhin, known to have a close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, gained international attention during the Ukraine conflict in 2022 when the Wagner Group actively engaged in combat, notably in the battles around the Donbass stronghold of Artyomovsk (Bakhmut). Prigozhin publicly criticized the Russian Defense Ministry and even led a short-lived mutiny against the government, which was ultimately quelled through negotiations brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. Notably, in the days leading up to the plane crash, Prigozhin released a video from Africa, indicating that the Wagner Group had resumed recruitment and was involved in counter-terrorism operations against groups like “ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and other bandits.”

Russian President Putin commented on Prigozhin’s passing, acknowledging him as a “talented” individual with a “complicated destiny” who significantly contributed to combating neo-Nazis in Ukraine.

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