Putin Doesn’t Cook

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

When I saw the news Wednesday afternoon regarding a then-euphemistic plane crash outside Moscow, I couldn’t help think of of a line from John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces:

“I bet you cook good, huh?” Darlene asked.
“Mother doesn’t cook,” Ignatius said dogmatically.
“She burns.”

Putin may have had enough of his former chef Yevgeniy Prigozhin’s cooking — enough that he didn’t bother with tossing the object of his unhappiness out a window.

He may burned him by way of Russian air defense missiles.

It calls to mind another fried crisp event a few years back, when fossil fuel company Total S.A.’s chief executive Christophe de Margerie died in the bright white flames of his jet after a pretty and allegedly drunken snowplow driver hit the jet as it was preparing to take off.

Prigozhin’s plane didn’t even get a pretty object of attention for redirection as de Margerie did.

He got something more like that which eliminated Russian deputy attorney general Saak Albertovich Karapetyan in 2018 when his helicopter crashed northeast of Moscow in the Kostroma region. Karapetyan had been associated with high level international operations intended to obstruct foreign investigations including the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko, the death of Sergei Magnitsky, and with Natalia Veselnitskaya’s Trump Tower meeting with Trump campaign team. Karapetyan had been blamed for information leaks to the west.

At first the helicopter crash was blamed on a night-time run in with trees; later reports said the pilot had been shot and a helicopter blade had gun shot damage.

Prigozhin’s plane had been traveling at an elevation of 28,000 feet making another run-in with trees unlikely.

Putin’s disgraced chef had two months to the day from his mutinous protest this June to put his affairs in order before his plane was swatted out of the sky.

~ ~ ~

Also of note:

— Early morning August 23, Russian Commander-in-Chief of the Aerospace Forces Sergei Surovikin was reported to have been fired. Surovikin had been responsible for leading Russia’s military assault on Ukraine from October 2022 until January 2023. He had also been linked to Prigozhin’s June rebellion as a secret member of Wagner group. Surovikin had disappeared from public view after the rebellion; reports about his location varied widely, with some claiming Surovikin had been detained, his daughter claiming he had not, and yet more reporting he was “resting.”

— Prigozhin had been seen on video earlier in the week at what appeared to be a location on the African continent. When and where exactly the video had been taken isn’t clear, nor is the status of Wagner operations in Africa after the plane crash Wednesday.

— Initial reports about Prigozhin’s plane crash attributed the cause to Russian air defense missiles while also claiming Prigozhin and nine others on board were killed. The Telegram social media channel associated with Wagner group, the Grey Zone, also said Prigozhin had been “killed as a result of actions by traitors of Russia.” Grey Zone also reported Wagner co-founder Dmitry Utkin had been on the plane. But as coverage of the crash progressed, the reports shifted from assumptions Prigozhin was dead to reports that Prigozhin’s name was on the plane’s passenger list.

— Reports changed from dead to listed not long after exiled Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky noted Prigozhin’s personal security practices:

Oddly enough, BBC has now removed the quote from their coverage of the plane crash. Only this screenshot documents a journalist’s observation of this quote.

— There had been two planes registered to Prigozhin in the air over Russia on August 23; the whereabouts of the second plane isn’t known at this time though it had been recorded by FlightRadar24.

— Vladimir Putin spent part of Wednesday observing the 80th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Kursk. The largest tank battle in history began July 5, 1943 and ended seven weeks later on August 23 in southwest Russia.

— Putin had also been scheduled to speak at a BRICs summit early Wednesday as a virtual attendee; however his speech was not live but prerecorded. There have been a number of observations about Putin’s voice which did not sound like his normal speech. China’s President Xi Jinping didn’t show up as scheduled at one of the BRIC summit events but this does not appear related to Putin’s speech. In his absence, Xi’s speech was instead delivered by Commerce Minister Wang Wentao.

80 replies
  1. EuroTark says:

    My first thought reading this last night was that this wasn’t an accident. The second was, it could be an elaborate ruse by Wagner to fake Prigozhin’s death. Local news floated a third theory though: The military took matter into their own hands and did this without sanction from the top.

    • Rayne says:

      Shoigu’s name did cross my desk once today.

      Makes some of the recent drone attacks on Moscow look like excuses for a heightened air defense response.

      • Rugger_9 says:

        The drone attacks were real, but to your point maybe they were Russian and not Ukrainian. Either way, I would suspect the air defense crews to be very ‘focused’ on anything that did not respond to IFF interrogation.

        As for Wagner, has anyone seen who succeeded Prigozhin? My gut feeling is that the named person will help clarify the real story. If it’s a Putin crony, then it’s likely that Yevgeny is dead in a decapitation job to eliminate Wagner as a threat by placing it under Vlad’s thumb. If it’s a Prigozhin crony, then Yevgeny is in hiding. If it’s neither of these, perhaps Wagner is going rogue after Prigozhin and is deputy were killed and Putin will need to watch his back.

        I also find it interesting that Putin is not traveling very much these days outside of his bubble zone which I interpret as a sign of fear.

        • Rayne says:

          The drone attacks were real, but to your point maybe they were Russian and not Ukrainian.

          I didn’t want to say false flag but there you go. It seems rather odd there are few reports of injuries after these drone attacks and not many forensic photos of equipment. If they were Russian but not pro-Putin drones Ukraine isn’t going to say anything if it serves their interests.

          • EuroTark says:

            Lack of casualties makes it more likely to be Ukrainian in my mind. They want to keep their higher moral ground, and most targets appear to have been hit at times they were unlikely to be occupied.

    • subtropolis says:

      That last possibility came to me as well. That mutiny was not a coup against Putin, imho, despite his televised remonstrations after the fact. That was just Kabuki theatre to keep a confused citizenry in check. Note that Prigozhin never spoke out against Putin, and indeed made much of his anger with how his targets in Moscow were leading Putin to disaster. There was a lot more going on there besides Wagner, and i think that Putin was not entirely surprised about what happened.

      Afterwards, as the thing collapsed, attempts were made to patch up ill will. The Wagner boys were sent to Belarus to cool off — and to keep out of sight while others in Moscow were mollified. We can still use Wagner, it was said. Things will calm down, and we’ll focus on the war, etc.

      But maybe Putin was convinced that Wagner’s leadership had to go — that the remaining fighters had to be absorbed or isolated, and cutting the head off of the organisation was the only sure way to achieve either.

      Or, certain elements within the Defense Ministry chose to take advantage of a unique opportunity — the entire leadership in a single aircraft together — and moved without Putin’s consent. That would represent a whole other level of drama to come.

      But i still think that the simplest solution to this puzzle is that Putin was convinced that Prigozhin, Utkin, et al had to be removed from the scene.

      • Patrick Carty says:

        I’m sure there are a few Wagner loyalists who are not happy with this turn of events. Of course truth rarely escapes the Russian borders so who knows what happens next.

      • vinniegambone says:

        Not without munitions, they won’t.
        Being in Russia’s miltary must be gust as horrible as it was for grunts in Nam.

        Wagner isn’t gonna do shit.
        They’re at Putin’s mercy

  2. Spank Flaps says:

    Maybe Putin had to wait until he could definitely kill all the Wagner leadership in one hit.
    I think the plane was hit by two STA’s, which blew the wings off.
    That plane had the engines on the tail. The tail is still visible as the plane is tumbling, and the engines are audible right down to the ground.

    • subtropolis says:

      There are plenty of air defenses in the area, and they are supposedly on high alert, so make a convenient agent for such a hit. But it’s smack in the middle of the air corridor between Russia’s two largest cities. I think it’s more likely that the aircraft was shot down using a fighter’s missiles.

      Given that the Wagner mutineers not only shot down several helos but also an airborne command aircraft with ~10 aboard, i’m sure that there are many in the Russian Air Force who, despite perhaps initially having some quiet sympathy may have soured quite a lot of these mercenaries.

      And, i’d like to think that the fighter pilot — is this is what happened — first flew up very close to Prigozhin’s plane and flipped to one side to reveal his missiles, as interceptors will do when confronting a bomber flying too close to one’s territory. Such a maneuovre reveals to the pilot of the intercepted aircraft that the fighter has missiles on board. I want to believe that a Russian pilot did such a thing to ensure that Prigozin & co. had plenty of time to consider what was about to happen, as the fighter dropped back to put the Embraer in the crosshairs. It would have been such a wasted opportunity, the pilot might think, should the missile(s) kill him before he knew what happened.

  3. scroogemcduck says:

    The whole thing is weird. Why march towards Moscow and then just… stop? Why agree to exile in Belarus then continue flying around Russia? Who would get to know Putin well and at any point believe that you can trust him? If Prighozin was smart, faking his death and moving far, far away would be exactly the correct thing to do.

    • boatgeek says:

      There was another analysis on why Prigozhin marched halfway to Moscow and then stopped that I found compelling. The author said that both Putin and Prigozhin had an incentive to negotiate because neither was sure that they could win quickly in a war against the other. A slow victory, or worse, a slow defeat would weaken both so much that a quick resolution was preferable to both, with the long-term details to be worked out later. I can dig up the link if you like.

      I can’t fathom why either would trust the other, so I can only assume that there are many wheels within wheels.

    • subtropolis says:

      The “mutiny” may have been cover for something involving more people in Moscow. And whatever plan had been underway had for whatever reason fell apart. It was then made out to be simply about a bunch of hotheaded mercenaries and nothing more. They were given the opportunity to walk away because the defense ministry couldn’t afford to go to war with them. Prigozhin was protected because he still had much value for the regime — including the defense ministry, if only in easing pressures on them in spheres outside of Ukraine. For that reason Prigozhin believed that he could not only survive this but go on to other things.

      But then a final decision was made to decapitate the group in order to best keep them under control for the future. There have already been some angry howls from some of the Wagner fighters but they are leaderless now, and the problem can be managed.

  4. RitaRita says:

    Assuming it was staged, the next question is why.

    Assuming it was not staged, the next question is what happens to those Wagnerians loyal to Prizgozhin.

    Assuming Prizgozhin was not on the plane, what is his next move?

    The most likely scenario is that Putin removed the head of the Air Force and then shot the plane down. Putin doesn’t play around.

    • scroogemcduck says:

      “Assuming Prizgozhin was not on the plane, what is his next move?”

      Somewhere like Belize.

      • BrokenPromises says:

        I think somewhere in Africa. Wagner has a presence there and it’s a huge continent where I would expect he can buy secrecy.

    • Rugger_9 says:

      If we knew who was really on the plane some of this will be much clearer. But, given the information control Putin exercises and the expected state of the bodies after falling 28 k feet and burning on the ground we may never know for certain who flew on the jet.

      • posaune says:

        Jose Andres had a comment:

        José Andrés 🇺🇸🇪🇸🇺🇦
        I will not be surprised if he is still alive….Prigozhin has proven to be smart….he is alive somewhere…

  5. James Wimberley says:

    Just for complete coverage of the conspiracy and cockup space, there is the theory that Russian air defences were on hair-trigger alert after the Ukrainian sabotage of the Soltsy airbase, also NW of Moscow. Prig’s plane turned off its transponder for some reason (covert change of destination?), air defences thought it was a drone and shot it down. Throw in alcohol and cockup becomes even more likely. There are of course tankies reflexibly blaming the CIA because, with no plausible motive.

  6. SteveBev says:

    More details on the passenger list

    • Dmitry Utkin
    • Valery Chekalov, a longtime Prigohzin ally who was believed to be in charge of his business empire. Chekalov was said to be overseeing Priogzhin’s catering firm that provided food for schools across Russia and fed the military. Chekalov is said to have managed some of Prigozhin’s business assets in Syria, including his investment in oil in the war-torn country. in charge of Prigozhin’s travel arrangements, making him one of the only people aware of the warlord’s secretive movements. He was also responsible for Prigozhin’s personal security
    • Evgeniy Makaryan.
    joined Wagner in 2016 and fought as part of the mercenary group during Russia’s intervention in Syria. He was reportedly injured in the Battle of Khasham, where hundreds of Russian mercenaries perished after US airstrikes against pro-Assad forces.
    • Sergey Propustin,

    Members of Prigozhin’s personal security guard were also listed among the passengers killed, including Sergey Propustin, a Chechen war veteran who joined Wagner in 2015.

    • zscoreUSA says:

      Does it seem weird that they were all on a plane at the same time? People of that high rank. I wonder how much deviation there was to normal travel patterns, or if that indicates they were called to a very serious meeting. Or like that tweet suggests, they just signed up on the roster but fly separately.

      And that is interesting timing with Surovikin being fired just prior.

      • SteveBev says:

        Surovikin has been out of the picture for the whole time since the attempted coup. The timing of the formal announcement that he was stripped of office probably isn’t coincidence.

        As for the lapse in security, it does seem strange, but I have no idea,

      • John B. says:

        Yes, it does seem strange at least to me to have the Wagner leade5rship all on one plane…one would think they would know better…

        • Duderino says:

          Perhaps Putin told them they were all going to he awarded medals –“Heroes of the Motherland”. Something Karla might do.

  7. thorvold says:

    The plane was cruising at 28,000 feet before it went down. This is beyond the height range of MANPADS or other short range SAMs that are more often used against low flying aircraft or helicopters. One alternative theory is that there may have been a bomb on board.

      • Tech Support says:

        The ISW website has been incredibly valuable for keeping tabs on the war in Ukraine and they haven’t been shy about including a bunch of swag about Wagner, the Russian ultra-nationalist community, and others connected to the conflict.

        When the war broke out I was tracking information from CNN and other sources to keep abreast of things, and the reporters kept making references to ISW. Once I found their website I just started reading their daily digests and have completely cut out the middle-man. Any time NYT WaPo or CNN has some breaking news about something significant in the conflict, it’s typically been in the prior evening’s ISW briefing.


    • Cattress says:

      The family of one of the flight crew team said that she phoned them to say the plane had been taken for “inexplicable” repairs shortly before the scheduled departure. I personally would have acquired an illness resembling food poisoning rather than get on that flight knowing this, but it’s entirely possible this is just disinformation. Though, a bomb on board seems like it would make it more difficult to determine who was behind the attack, leaving a certain degree of mystery that Putin could use to his benefit. There would be no aerial attack, whether from the ground, a drone, or fighter jet for anyone to witness or claim to have pulled the trigger so-to-speak. There’s more control over what potential evidence lands with the wreckage. It’s certainly a more controlled means to take the plane down, less risk collateral damage. Putin can claim or deny responsibility as it suits him; one of his minions already said they expect to blamed & have no problem if that’s what people believe.

      [Thanks for updating your username to meet the 8 letter minimum. /~Rayne]

  8. Doctor My Eyes says:

    One other opinion, some twitterer said he had been following Prighozin’s flights and that after July he had been turning off the transponder. So why have the transponder on for this flight?

    Also too, I read that the second jet returned to the airport 20 minutes after takeoff?

    Has Prighozin been dead since “surrendering”? Was it a jet loaded with dead bodies?

    Fun to speculate about the death of this evil man, but I’m with Scrooge above, none of it makes any sense. It’s like finding patterns in clouds.

    “Forget it Jake. It’s Russia.”


  9. pdaly says:

    The Guardian mentions the time in 2019 Prigozhin was reported as dead after a plane crashed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo only to appear 3 days later alive and well.
    It also points out that several people in his entourage have changed their name to Prigozhin as part of Prigozhin’s attempts to create decoys for his actual travels:

    “There is one huge caveat to the early reporting,” wrote Keir Giles, a senior consulting fellow on the Russia and Eurasia programme at Chatham House. “It’s been announced that a passenger by the name of Yevgeniy Prigozhin was onboard. But it is also known that multiple individuals have changed their name to Yevgeniy Prigozhin, as part of his efforts to obfuscate his travels. So until we know for certain that it’s the right Prigozhin, let’s not be surprised if he pops up shortly in a new video from Africa.”


    • Rayne says:

      That video Prigozhin released recently contained a line which piqued my interest, something to the effect it was nice and hot there where he was, “just the way they liked it,” to paraphrase it.

      Wondering if that’s where Wagner personnel will eventually find a new off-the-map home.

      • pdaly says:

        Oh, I missed that! I had not payed attention to where the video was taken and figured the timestamp, if there was one, was unreliable at best.

  10. Ravenclaw says:

    Honestly, y’all, there isn’t much call for wide-ranging conspiracy theories here. Rayne has pointed out most of the key facts. The Russian Ministry of Defense has been working to erode his control over Wagner, getting some of the leaders and soldiers to decamp – which was likely to accelerate if Prigozhin didn’t find new revenue sources. Prigozhin made a recent flight to/from Africa where he posted a video trying to recruit fighters and solicit new contracts, in defiance of Russia’s official efforts to take over from Wagner there. This may have triggered early action (long term, he was going to be subject to assassination attempts no matter what). His ally General Surovkin, already sidelined, was officially removed from command on the same day. Prigozhin’s plane was shot down by S-300 missiles. There is a *chance* the wily old rogue took a different plane, and I reckon the Russian authorities are examining the bodies as we ponder. But most likely, this is it. Putin comes out stronger internally, but the Russian military effort suffers the loss of two of its more competent (and ruthlessly cruel) commanders.
    Worth checking out: https :// www .unders *** tandingwar .org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-august-23-2023 (link broken with asterisks)

    • Rayne says:

      I haven’t been able to pull the Niger coup into perspective, though I wonder if Prigozhin failed on a final assignment to get the coup to accept Wagner services as entré for Russia, and that’s what sealed the chef’s fate.

      The one piece of the entire Russo-Ukraine war I can’t make sense of: why Shoigu still has his job. Is he the one running the show and Putin’s afraid of him? Is Prigozhin’s termination the price for Shoigu keeping his job in spite of his lousy execution of the invasion?

      p.s. You need to add blank spaces after https and isolate www or WordPress coding assumes an active link.

      • Ravenclaw says:

        My guess on the Africa trip is that it was Prigozhin looking for new sources of cash to keep his mercenary army paid and loyal, but that this violated Putin’s understanding of their agreement – that Wagner would go to Belarus and dwindle while the MoD or some new private army took on African security operations. But that’s only a guess.

        Oh – and sorry for my ignorance as to link disabling! I’ll try to remember the right way to go about it.

        • misnomer bjet says:

          When Russian state media began airing Prighozin gnashing his teeth last winter, my first thought was that like Putin’s nuclear war fear-mongering, this provided fodder to Western political forces campaigning against “lethal” support for Ukraine (in it’s goal of booting Russia out of Crimea & establishing functional democracy) who’d been most notably shifting the goalposts on political opposition from a warmongering stance to isolationism & ‘peacemaking’ since around when the little green men appeared in Ukraine, but doing so ever since the means & results of the Cheney admin’s invasion of Iraq became common knowledge; this became a strategic concern for his party most pressingly, during the 2016 election cycle. Trump was a perfect vehicle for that shift. Likewise, for other interests GOP bigwigs have long held in common with Putin’s gang, like delaying fulfillment of Paris Agreement goals.

          Prighozin’s public performance of critical fierceness made Putin look good to anyone susceptible to that ‘peacekeeper party’ goal shifting strategy. This would help peel the margin for those political parties in the west, which as history now shows, have been helpful to Putin.

          Who did not at least have a fleeting preference for the ‘known’ factor of Putin, when this public manifestation of Prighozin (with all else that we know about him) suddenly appeared to be politically viable in Russia?

          I had much the same sense of the Wagner ‘rebellion’ and now this breathless news of what appears to be the successful assassination of that specter. Whitewash.

          “in defiance of Russia’s official efforts to take over from Wagner there” (Ravenclaw)
          “as entré for Russia” (Rayne)

          Is the ’relief’ of that plane going down (so to speak) not also a plausible excuse for Putin to commence more openly deploying official military in certain areas of Africa -&/or anywhere else PMCs have been busy, anywhere else rare minerals key to shifting off dependence on oil might be easy pickings?

          I may not have the memory of an elephant, but I remember the dates of Putin’s signing legalization of mercenaries in 2016, & the day in 2017 when that went into effect. Erik Prince was heading to the Seychelles within hours of the latter.

  11. Alan Charbonneau says:

    The plane was shot down by a missile, not an onboard bomb—even the blurry pics of the plane tumbling to the ground show a wing was shot off. As to whether it could have been air defenses shooting first and asking questions later, Shoigu acting on his own, or Putin assassinating Prigozhin, any seem plausible. In fact, they seem equally likely to me. But the idea that he faked his death is not likely. I briefly wondered about that possibility but I’m fairly sure he’s dead..

    In somewhat related news, Ukraine shot down a Russian missile and found lots of western chips inside. It seems German companies are helping Russia to evade sanctions by selling to Kyrgyzstan:

  12. klynn says:

    “It seems German companies are helping Russia to evade sanctions by selling to Kyrgyzstan…”

    While OT, that discovery is going to be difficult for Germany.

    Rayne, thank you for this piece. I cannot fully decide where to settle on this news about Prigozhin. I honestly do not know if he is dead. Not clearly knowing hands a win to everybody from a RU perspective.

  13. punaise says:

    Who in their right mind would board a plane with that guy? He was Dead Man Flying.

    Comment seen at DKos: “You think it’s easy, pushing an entire airplane out of a tenth floor window?”

    • Matt___B says:

      Aerial defenestration is the new “state of the art”? Reminds me of Pinochet and helicopters over the ocean, though…

      • punaise says:

        I thought that was the Argentinian junta “disappearing” people. Same tactic in Chile perhaps.

        • Matt___B says:

          Ugh. I think there was some scuttlebutt when Paul Wellstone’s plane crashed as well. It can’t happen here?

          • Rayne says:

            There’ve been political assassinations here, you know this. Anything’s possible. There were a couple within a year of the 2016 election.

            There was a likely defenestration here last year in D.C., Latvian-born Putin critic “fell” off a roof (window apparently inconvenient).

            Have there been any using aircraft? Maybe we don’t know only because they were small fish. Folks still wonder about the 2008 crash in Ohio; unless somebody leaves a deathbed confession this one will likely remain an open question.

            • Mr. Knows Nothing, et. al. says:

              The crash occurred in the darkness during freezing inclement weather while lining up for a final approach.

              Presuming this is the correct NTSB report (# CEN09FA099), the summary read:

              “Probable Cause and Findings
              The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot’s inappropriate control inputs as a result of spatial disorientation, which led to an aerodynamic stall and loss of control. Contributing to the accident were the pilot’s decision to conduct flight into known icing conditions, ice accumulation that reduced the airplane’s aerodynamic performance, and the pilot’s failure to initially intercept and establish the airplane on the proper approach course.”

              The report also mentioned an investigation into the engine and found no anomalies.

              My eyebrow was raised with this section (edited slightly for clarity):
              “A person representing N9299N called the Raleigh Automated Flight Service Station at 1427 to obtain a [weather] briefing. The caller stated he was trying to “figure out” when he could return to CAK and was “looking at the possibility” of a departure time of 1500.

              The briefer asked: “Would you like a standard briefing and just cover everything or you need to just to kind a hit the highlights ?”

              ***The caller replied: “ …I don’t want to waste your time. Let’s figure out if this sounds like a suicide mission or not, and then we’ll go from there.”***

              The briefer then stated: “Well, I’ll hit the highlights. If there’s something else you want you just let me know.””

              I’m not really seeing any red flags of outside maleficence here, other than his instrument rating should have prevented his disorientation; it is no guarantee, however.

              Whatever the case, unless there is some extraordinary evidence presented now or later, it’s strongly suggests to me the pilot was responsible (and no one else) for their own demise.

  14. Fran of the North says:

    One thing that oligarchs and politicians have relied upon to enable their lifestyles is that their opponents hew to lines of civility. As civilization grows more coarse and the weapons of war (designed or improvised – e.g. bomb carrying drones) are more readily available, that assumed right of free travel and personal safety may go the way of the dodo. What we might have seen here was state sponsored assassination using the weapons of war.

    I recently saw an article suggesting that Central/South American drug cartels are using FPV drones to attack their competitors and law enforcement/politicians. Ultimately, this doesn’t bode well for those who make waves.

  15. Molly Pitcher says:

    From the Daily Beast:

    Wagner Soldiers Send Chilling Warning After Reports of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Death


    And Also from Daily Beast:

    Yevgeny Prigozhin Was Assassinated, U.S. Officials Say


    “The Wall Street Journal reported that the aircraft was not shot down by a surface-to-air missile but rather was likely taken down by an explosion on board the aircraft. Investigators in Russia have not excluded the possibility that explosive devices could have gone off on board the aircraft, according to Baza, a site with ties to Russian security services.”

    • SteveBev says:

      Pentagon official says surface-to-air missile claims about Prigozhin plane ‘inaccurate’
      At a press briefing Brig General Pat Ryder said the Pentagon had no indication that the plane carrying Prigozhin was brought down by a surface-to-air missile. “We assess that information to be inaccurate,” Ryder said of press reports that the Embraer plane was hit by surface-to-air missiles.

      He also said the Pentagon thought it was likely that Prigozhin was dead but did not confirm this.

  16. morganism says:

    I thought it was a way to hide him, but the telling thing is that he was leaving a meeting with major defense leaders. He must have thought he was back in the good graces. Pitkins tattoo’s were very distinctive also.

    Whats really going to get interesting is what Lukashenko will do now. He’s got these Wags on his property, he hasn’t been paying them well, and since Wag can’t physically get to Putin, will they take out Luka as revenge?

    The Belarusian gov in exile is upping their surveil, lets see if they actually come up with the money to hire Wag to take out Luka. Then Wag could easily overwhelm any Belarusian mil attack, and take their eqpt.
    Stick around, will be wild!

  17. DrStuartC says:

    Well, well, another chapter in the odd saga of Prigozhin and Putin. There’s something that feels so scripted and bogus about all this, and most of what we can know for sure, is that this is what Putin wants us to think.
    The whole story, starting with Putin allowing Prigozhin to severely criticize his generals running the war for months, to the March on Moscow oddness, and then Prigozhin wasn’t arrested right away, and deals were apparently cut, with Lushenko having a lot to say about it, (when we never really heard from him before), and now to this supposedly “inevitable” conclusion. It all just seemed so odd and even scripted.

    Too many news articles and opinions, stating things they didn’t know about for certain, as factual, bothered me at first. It seemed to me that Putin benefited from having someone very popular at home criticize the Russian top brass. It gave him some ass coverage, because most war decisions were probably his or approved by him. It seemed to me that Prigozhin advanced way too easily, and had support and Russian Army cooperation. And then he was given a free pass, went back “to Africa”, and now this chapter of the story. Why wasn’t it just as obvious that Putin and Prigozhin were working in concert to achieve something, and that’s why the Wagner chief was allowed to live after his “rebellion” failed? It served Putin’s purposes, or else it wouldn’t have happened.

    My whole life, one thing I learned growing up in the days of Brezhnev and the USSR was, whatever you think you know about Russia, is mostly what they want you to think. Maybe I’m just well trained to think like that, but I think it’s still the same: Putin wants us to think whatever is happening is really happening, seems like a good place to start. So who benefitted from all this? Putin, of course. He was able to put his generals on notice with the flak from Prigozhin. He was able to set up the popular Prigozhin to look bad and have a reason to eliminate him if he needed to. Meanwhile, all the money from his cut of the military and school meals and whatever oil deals he had in Syria kept flowing to Putin. No one can really tell what happened except educated guesswork, but I think it’s safe to say, most of anything that happens in Russia is the way Putin wants it to happen.

    So, is he really dead? A guy who had multiple Prigozhins running around to protect himself? Who was obviously aware he may be a target of multiple people? A guy who seemingly routinely flies on two planes at once? What’s the most rational, reasonable and simplest answer? Maybe it’s that Putin and Prigozhin have written another chapter to make Putin look like the fearless bad guy image who brooks no disrespect, as he tries continually to project, and Prigozhin gets to get off the hot seat for anyone gunning for him and now just has to keep a low profile to stay out of trouble.

    Maybe I’m just too jaded, but I do think it’s wise to remember this is Russia we’re talking about, and Rule 1 is Nothing happens without Putin’s permission. Rule 2 is you can never really know what the reasons are for what’s happening over there when it’s defenestration season.

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username and email address each time you comment so that community members get to know you. The username “Stuart Cantor” has been edited this once to match your previous username, “DrStuartC.” Please make a note of this username and use it on all future comments. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  18. scribe says:

    My money is on the last-minute case of wine being a little stronger than normal. There was what looked like pretty solid reporting there was a case of wine added to the plane at the last minute.

    There was also some pretty solid reporting of last-minute repairs to the plane. A couple pounds of C-4 in a wheel well would blow off a wing, and could be slipped in by repairmen either as is, or perhaps in a replacement oleo for the landing gear. The plane was not burning but was trailing fuel as it fell. Only caught fire on the ground.

    Either way, I don’t see Putin wasting a SAM – which might miss – for something that wouldn’t.

    Also, putting a bomb inside a wine bottle would be a poetically ironic way of repeating history, only this time it worked. Those historically inclined might remember one of the failed plots against Hitler tried to blow up him and his plane. As he was leaving a conference in Russia, some of the plotters managed to slip a couple bottles of labeled-as-Cointreau into the plane. Unfortunately for the plot, it was cold in Russia and the bombs froze and failed to go off. Fellow plotters, waiting for the non-arrival of the plane to set the coup in motion, had to get onto the plane and retrieve the bombs lest they, not the plane, be blown. Which they pulled off. That plot wasn’t uncovered until much later.

    In any event, I like as my quote of the day what Putin said today about Prigozhin: “he made many mistakes in life”.

    Indeed he did.

  19. Overshire says:

    Ever since the Wagner mutiny, a tale from a history of the Romanovs has kept coming back to mind, of a pretender to the Russian throne who, having at first been accepted, but later discovered to actually be Polish, was unceremoniously defenestrated, but apparently not from a high-enough window. When he was found still alive on the ground, he was carried back up to the same window, and thrown out it again, this time with a rope shorter than the drop tied around his genitals. That one did the job. The body was then burned, and the ashes loaded into a cannon on the city walls and fired in the general direction of Poland.
    If Prigozhin is indeed dead, by Russian standards, he may have gotten off easy.

  20. Waffleses says:

    My gut reaction to the news was “There’s no way he was actually on that plane”. What do I know, though.

    I really just popped in to give you a high-5 for the A Confederacy of Dunces quote. I just, this week, attempted to convince my 14 y.o. (with a well developed and duly warped sense of humor) that it was a book well worth reading, and the week before that, I had some potatiss salad, and made sure to smack my lips loudly as I used them to clean the spoon.

    • Rayne says:

      He should try Confederacy and then Ben Hamper’s Rivethead: Tales from the Assembly Line. Colorful stuff. Maybe follow it with Carl Hiassen’s fiction based in Florida which accurately depicts Florida Man.

      • theartistvvv says:

        Carl Hiassen and Randy Wayne White are about the only things Florida I have any affection for anymore.

        • missinggeorgecarlin says:

          I’ve lived in FL-duh, off and on, since 1979. I know we’re a bit of a cultural wasteland and home to some awful politicians like Rubio, Rick Scott, Ron “I was a Seal” DeSantis, etc.

          But DeSantis only won by less than 1% last time and the Democratic party did us no favors by running Charlie Christ (who has now lost Gov. races as a Dem, Republican and an Independent!).

          I hope you all won’t give up on us completely. There’s lot of wonderful people down here who are not on board w/the ridiculous garbage pouring out of the GOP. I believe the GOP failures of the last few decades (especially re: flood/homeowners insurance and ignoring global warming) are starting to sink in. Also, most people realize the ‘culture war’ is pointless.

          I have hope the national Democratic party will start investing time/$/energy into helping us turn FL blue. Not your comment per se, but I see many on the internet condemning all 23M +/- of us.

          Don’t give up on Florida, we’re not all awful people down here. There’s a lot of natural beauty and culture, it’s just not as easy to find here as in some places!

          • Rayne says:

            My folks live there half the year. My in-laws also lived there half the year. That’s part of the problem with Floriduh — a lot of the money down there doesn’t live with the destruction it causes, kind of like that Surfside condo collapse. How many of the people who used that building were full-time occupants fully invested in that building’s maintenance?

            The other problem is expecting the national party to fix a state/local problem. The DNC didn’t fix Michigan’s gerrymandering problem. Michiganders did by organizing a nonpartisan group to create a ballot initiative to make redistricting more fair. And lo, the Michigan Democrats have a trifecta — both state houses and the governor’s office, as well as the AG and SOS offices. This is what Floridians need to do, fix the problems which are state/local, nip some of them in the bud before they get worse like Proud Boys maneuvering their way into control of Miami city and county governance.

            In short, don’t ask us not to give up on Florida. Floridians need to prove they haven’t thrown in the towel.

  21. wa_rickf says:

    It’s now been three days since this incident, Yevgeniy Prigozhin has not shown his face, if in fact, he is still alive. Also, no mention of “black box” recovery for analysis in article that I’ve read on this incident. No black box is needed because what happened was pre-determined.

    Putin spoke of Yevgeniy Prigozhin in the past tense after news of the incident became known, because the reality is, this was an assassination of a man who became disloyal to Putin.

    When Yevgeniy Prigozhin dared challenge Putin with his “march to Moscow,” it made Putin look weak. People don’t make Putin look weak and live (long) to tell it about. Putin’s usual device for eliminating people is for them fall out of a window. In this case, a plane fell out of the sky.

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