MOSCOW (Reuters) – A second plane linked to Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin by some Russian media has no connection to the mercenary group and never has had, the CEO of the aircraft operator company told Reuters.
Russia’s aviation authority has said Prigozhin was on board a private Embraer jet which crashed on Wednesday evening northwest of Moscow with no survivors. An investigation has yet to definitively identify the 10 people on board but Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent condolences to their families.
Russian media, mainly associated with the Wagner group’s Telegram channel Grey Zone, had linked a second business jet with the tail number RA-02748 with the mercenary group, and had reported that it was also in the air at the time of the crash.
But the jet operator, Russian company Jetica LLC, denied any such link.
“Neither the plane itself nor its passengers are related to Wagner and never have been,” Jetica’s CEO Sergey Trifonov told Reuters.
This plane had not been rented out, Trifonov said, though he declined to say who its owner was.
The RA-02748 was landing in St. Petersburg on Wednesday evening on a flight from Moscow when the plane believed to be carrying Prigozhin crashed, flight tracking data shows. It then took off back to Moscow about 20 minutes later.
(Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov; Editing by Gareth Jones)