Prigozhin was "obsessed" with the safety of his flights, but something changed before the crash: loud details and a new video of the plane crash
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the owner of the Russian private military company Wagner, who was reported dead in a plane crash on 23 August, paid great attention to the safety of his flights. He was constantly changing planes, and the pilots, on Prigozhin's orders, confused the routes as much as possible and changed the destination at the last minute.
Shortly before the crash, however, the oligarch was forced to abandon such precautions as a result of demands and threats from Russian state services. This was reported by the Russian Telegram channel "VCHK-OGPU".
Citing an unnamed interlocutor familiar with Prigozhin's habits, the channel reported that the owner of the Wagner PMC was literally "obsessed" with conspiracy. That's why he changed planes and routes several times during his flights.
"According to the source, until recently, Prigozhin demanded that pilots confuse routes as much as possible. For example, he would fly to his destination on one plane and return on another. In between, both aircraft would fly to different closed airports. And when he ordered a route to Zhukovsky, for example, he could take it and fly to an alternate airport in Pulkovo without notifying Rosaviatsia. On the contrary, he could send the other flight to the Moscow region. This was the case even after the mutiny," the VCHK-OGPU wrote.
Another of Prigozhin's constant demands was to destroy the list of people on board after each flight.
However, shortly before his death, he was forced to abandon such precautions at the insistence of the Russian authorities.
"Recently, Rosaviatsiya and a number of other services threatened MNT-Aero with big problems and categorically forbade Prigozhin's planes to change routes and demanded that they fly as originally planned," the statement said.
At the same time, Prigozhin was banned from destroying passenger lists.
Meanwhile, videos of Prigozhin's Embraer-135 business jet falling down continue to appear online. The latest footage was posted by residents of the village of Kuzhenkino, Bologovsk District, Tver Region.
And Russian security forces are still looking for the flight data recorders from the crashed plane.
"There are suspicions that they could have been found and taken by mercenaries of the Wagner PMC, who flooded the area after the accident," the VCHK-OGPU notes.
The channel also cited a source as saying that Prigozhin may have met with Russian President Vladimir Putin before his death.
"A source from the VCHK-OGPU says that Yevgeny Prigozhin could have met with Vladimir Putin in Moscow the day before his death. A few days before the incident, the head of the PMC Wagner returned from Africa. He had previously taken a departmental special flight. On 22 August, Putin met with the President of Mozambique in Moscow. The Protocol Service made an application for Prigozhin's flight that day for the evening, but at the last minute, the postponement to the next day was announced. According to one version, this was due to a meeting between Putin and Prigozhin," the report said.
The source of the VCHK-OGPU also reported that the list of passengers on board Prigozhin's flight had been expanded to include additional security.
"It is known that Yevgeny Prigozhin was flying home to St Petersburg, he gave orders regarding the helicopter that met him and his home," the channel's authors note.
They also published a photo from Prigozhin's crashed plane, taken seven hours before the crash: it shows a photo of Putin in a pilot's helmet and a selection of books on small arms.
Putin's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, promptly reacted to the information released by the VCHK-OGPU. He stated that the Russian dictator had not met with the head of the Wagner PMC recently. However, the Cheka-OGPU reminded that Peskov had also categorically denied the fact that Prigozhin and PMC commanders had met with Putin in the Kremlin some time ago. And then the dictator himself spoke about it.
On the evening of 23 August, a private business jet associated with the Wagner PMC crashed in the Bologov district of Tver region, 15 kilometres from the Khotilovo airbase. According to Rosaviatsia, the plane was supposed to be carrying Wagner's owner Prigozhin and representatives of the top management of the private military company.
All seven passengers on board, as well as three crew members, were killed.
For some time, there was no certainty that Prigozhin was indeed on the plane, but later reports of his death began to emerge. Later, US intelligence confirmed that Prigozhin was dead.
Eyewitnesses claimed to have heard two explosions before the plane went down, which spread the theory that the plane had been shot down by Russian air defences. This version was supported by numerous holes in the wreckage of the plane, which, according to supporters of the version, were typical of an air defence strike.
However, Russia's top propagandists, having recovered from the initial shock, began to pedal the version of the "Ukrainian trace" and the alleged explosives on board. They have been trying hard to convince Russians that Putin, who was suspected of the show trial of Prigozhin, did not want his death "at all".
The Institute of War Studies is convinced that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin almost certainly ordered the downing of the plane belonging to the Wagner Group. Analysts believe that this was the Russian dictator's revenge for the humiliation caused by the armed rebellion of the Wagner group on 23-24 June. That is why the elimination of Prigozhin and the Wagner commanders was as demonstrative as possible.