Russian authorities said on Sunday that genetic testing had confirmed the death of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the mercenary leader who perished in a mysterious plane crash last week along with other top members of his Wagner Group militia. The infamous fighter died two months after his failed mutiny against Russian President Vladimir Putin, which likely put a target on his back, according to Western officials.
The declaration was a blow to the hopes of some pro-Wagner groups, who had speculated online that Prigozhin was not on the downed plane. The Wagner leader was known for carefully disguising his travel plans to avoid assassination attempts.
“According to their results, the identities of all 10 dead were established. They correspond to the list stated in the flight sheet,” the Russian Investigative Committee said on Telegram, according to Reuters, referring to the initial flight manifest that listed Prigozhin on the plane.
U.S. intelligence officials have said the plane crash was likely a planned assassination of Prigozhin, a retaliation for his rebellion against the Russian military and its leaders in June. Dmitry Utkin, one of Wagner’s top commanders and a co-founder of the group, was also aboard the plane and died.
It was unclear what exactly caused the plane to crash, though experts told CNN that the flight likely experienced an inflight catastrophe that led it to plummet from the air. Russian authorities have remained mum on what they believed caused the crash, though Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov blasted claims that Putin ordered Prigozhin’s death as “an absolute lie.”