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    Mercenary Chief Prigozhin Is Presumed to Have Died in a Plane Crash Seen as the Kremlin’s Revenge

    Mercenary Chief Prigozhin Is Presumed to Have Died in a Plane Crash Seen as the Kremlin's Revenge

    Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin and some of his top lieutenants were presumed dead in a plane crash — widely seen Thursday as an assassination to avenge a mutiny that challenged President Vladimir Putin's authority.

    The founder of the Wagner company and six other passengers were on a private jet that crashed Wednesday, soon after taking off from with a crew of three, according to 's civil aviation authority. Rescuers found 10 bodies, and Russian media cited anonymous sources in Wagner who said Prigozhin was dead. But there has been no official confirmation.

    At Wagner's headquarters in St. Petersburg, lights were turned on in the shape of a large cross, and Prigozhin supporters built a makeshift memorial, piling red and white flowers outside the building Thursday, along with company flags and candles.

    Putin remained silent as speculation swirled, addressing the BRICS summit in Johannesburg via videolink without mentioning the crash. Russian state media also have not covered it extensively, instead focusing on the summit and Russia's invasion of .

    Police, meanwhile, cordoned off the field where the plane went down in Kuzhenkino, about 300 kilometers (185 miles) northwest of Moscow, as investigators studied its wreckage. Vehicles took away the bodies.

    Several Russian social media channels reported that the bodies were burned or disfigured beyond recognition and would…

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