The Kremlin admits that the death of Wagner mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin may not have been an accident

The Kremlin said Wednesday that the crash that caused the death of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of private military force Wagner, who died in Russia last week, may have been the result of “willful misconduct.”

The investigators have not yet clarified an official cause, but “different versions” of what happened are “considered,” according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

Peskow told reporters during his daily conference call that possible causes include “let’s say willful misconduct.”

He said the Russian investigative committee has not yet completed its investigation into the wreck. The committee last week opened a criminal case over flight safety violations, a standard charge used in investigations into plane crashes in Russia when no crime is suspected.


Wladimir Putin

Some experts believe Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the assassination, but the Kremlin has denied involvement in the crash. (Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

The Kremlin spokesman said there could be no international investigation prompted by the Center for Research and Prevention of Air Accidents in Brazil into the United Nations civil aviation regulations.

Prigozhin and several of his top lieutenants, including his deputy and Wagner’s chief of logistics, were among ten people who boarded a business jet that crashed halfway between Moscow and St Petersburg last Wednesday, August 23. Nobody survived the crash.

A photo of Moscow

The Spasskaya Tower of the Kremlin, center, and St. Basil’s Cathedral in downtown Moscow on April 1, 2023. (Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP via Getty Images)

The crash immediately sparked speculation that it might have been intentional, as it came exactly two months after Prigozhin’s armed march toward Moscow to protest Russia’s military leadership.

White House points finger at Russia in Prigozhin death: ‘Very clear what happened here’

The incident was seen as the largest armed uprising against President Vladimir Putin’s authority in his 23-year rule.

Some experts speculate that Putin ordered the assassination, but the Kremlin denied any involvement in the crash.

A bang, smoke

Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny V Prigozhin died when on August 23, 2023 a private jet he was on crashed, killing all ten people on board. (AP photo)

Ukraine, which Russia invaded last year and against which it continues to wage war, also denied involvement.

Putin said the passengers made “a significant contribution” to the fighting in Ukraine.

Yevgeny Prigozhin

Yevgeny Prigozhin records a video address in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, on June 24, 2023. (Prigozhin press service via AP)

“We remember it, we know it, and we will not forget it,” he said.

Putin does not plan to attend Prigozhin’s funeral

Prigozhin was buried in a private ceremony in his native St. Petersburg.

Prigozhin ceremony

A portrait of Yevgeny Prigozhin rests on flowers on his grave at Porokhovskoye Cemetery in St. Petersburg on Wednesday, August 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

The incident remained classified until spokesmen for the mercenary leader announced the location of his grave Tuesday night.

It’s also not immediately clear why multiple high-ranking Wagner members, who are normally concerned about their safety, boarded the same flight.

A photo of Moscow

A young woman lights a candle while others stand at an informal street memorial to members of the Wagner group killed in a plane crash near the Kremlin in Moscow, Tuesday August 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

It took days for the Kremlin to even confirm that Prigozhin had died in the crash.


A preliminary assessment by US intelligence concluded that a deliberate explosion caused the crash. Witnesses at the scene of the accident confirmed a loud explosion before the plane crashed, and videos at the scene of the accident show the plane being badly damaged and falling out of the sky.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Rick Schindler

Rick Schindler is a Worldtimetodays U.S. News Reporter based in Canada. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Rick Schindler joined Worldtimetodays in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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