Will Yevgeny Prigozhin rise from the dead like he did last time?

The Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin was presumed dead in a plane crash north of Moscow on Wednesday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was threatened by a short-lived revolt led by Prigozhin two months ago, even expressed condolences to his family in a televised address on Thursday. Putin recalled the Wagner chief as a “talented man who made mistakes”.

Everyone thinks it was Putin but what if…?

But did Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin fake his death and secretly escape in a second plane? Even if he was onboard, how did the plane really crash? Was there a bomb planted onboard or did Russian forces shoot it down from the sky?

The plane crash on Wednesday has left us with more questions than answers. We have heard that two planes took off and that the plane that exploded was not the one Prigozhin usually travelled in.

Wagner Telegram channels have reported Prigozhin’s death, and that of his right-hand man Dmitry Utkin in the same crash outside of Moscow Wednesday.

However, Keir Giles, from the London-based think tank Chatham House, warned: ‘It’s been announced that a passenger by the name of Yevgeny Prigozhin was on board – but it is also known that multiple individuals have changed their name to Yevgeny Prigozhin, as part of his efforts to obfuscate his travels. Let’s not be surprised if he pops up shortly in a new video from Africa.’

In 2019, the Russian warlord was presumed dead after a military aircraft crashed with eight people on boardin Congo. However, he reappeared alive and well only three days later.

Sources close to Prigozhin said that while the ill-fated aircraft did belong to him, the Wagner boss usually flew on another plane.

Wagner Troops pissed off

Meanwhile, as the news broke, Wagner supporters laid tributes to its commander outside the former Wagner Centre in St Petersburg. Putin is yet to comment but last night attended a concert.

Although the cause of the crash is unclear, Russian social media channels is awash with speculation that a case of fine wine onboard may in fact have been a bomb in disguise.

UK media has meanwhile referenced Wagner social media statements to suggest some among the mercenary outfit may be attempting to organize a new march or large-scale protest aimed at Moscow, or at least they’ve issued a new threat of a “march”:

A Wagner address last night, reported by the Sun, stated: ‘We directly say that we suspect the Kremlin officials led by Putin of an attempt to kill him!’.

‘If the information about Prigozhin’s death is confirmed, we will organize a second March of Justice on Moscow!

Meanwhile armed men claiming to be from the unit warned Putin in a video shared online: ‘There’s a lot of talk right now about what the Wagner Group will do. We can tell you one thing. 

‘We are getting started, get ready for us.’ 

We can only imagine what will happen if Prigozhin sacrificed his comrades to save himself. That would be a witch-hunt to watch.