The leader of a mercenary group that orchestrated a failed Russian coup in June was on a business jet that crashed Wednesday in Russia, killing everyone on board.
According to the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the chief of the Wagner Group, and its co-founder, Utkin Dmitriy, were on board the plane when it crashed; all 10 of the passengers were killed.
The jet, which was en route from Moscow to St. Petersburg and carrying three pilots and seven passengers, belonged to Prigozhin.
The news comes as reports from Russian media said Gen. Sergei Surovikin, who was connected to Prigozhin, was removed from his role as Moscow's air force commander.
Prigozhin had ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin that go back decades. He earned the nickname "Putin's chef" after the Russian president took an interest in his restaurant business.
But in June, the relationship was strained after Prigozhin called for an armed rebellion against Russia, claiming the country's military leadership was responsible for attacks on Wagner convoys and field camps located in Ukraine. The Russian authorities later dropped all charges against those involved, and Prigozhin's whereabouts were mostly unknown.
According to theAssociated Press, Russia's Investigative Committee has initiated an inquiry into the crash, citing breaches of air safety regulations, a usual step in such investigations.
President Joe Biden responded to reporters' questions on the crash, after they asked how much the White House knows.
Biden told reporters, as he left a workout session in Tahoe Valley, California, "I don't know for a fact what happened, but I'm not surprised."
The president said, "There's not much that happens in Russia with Putin not behind it, but I don't know enough to know the answer."
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