August 23, 2023 Russia-Ukraine, Prigozhin news

By Tara Subramaniam, Jack Guy, Caolán Magee, Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Sophie Tanno, Leinz Vales, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 11:11 p.m. ET, August 24, 2023
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2:51 p.m. ET, August 23, 2023

Plane matching profile of aircraft registered to Prigozhin seen falling out of sky, Russian media reports

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy and Gianluca Mezzofiore

A plane which matches the profile of an Embraer Legacy 600, is seen falling out of the sky with one wing missing, according to video published by Russian state media outlet RIA Novosti. 

CNN is unable to confirm the authenticity of the video, but RIA Novosti claimed it was the moment that an Embraer jet fell from the sky in the Tver region of Russia. 

The plane seen in the video appears similar to Embraer Legacy 600, a match to an aircraft registered to Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin. Its paint is dark and the engines — two almost boxy ovals — are set far back near the tail. 

It's seen falling in the video in one piece; there's no indication of a catastrophic explosion in the body of the plane. However, as the plane twists, there appears to be only one wing still attached. 

It is evident that the plane is out of control as it spirals downward.

2:43 p.m. ET, August 23, 2023

US officials expressed concern for Prigozhin's safety after failed rebellion

From CNN's Kylie Atwood

Yevgeny Prigozhin is seen in Moscow on April 8.
Yevgeny Prigozhin is seen in Moscow on April 8. Yulia Morozova/Reuters

Top Biden administration officials have repeatedly and publicly warned that Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin could be killed by the Kremlin after he led an armed rebellion against Russia earlier this year.

“If I were he, I’d be careful what I ate. I’d keep my eye on my menu,” US President Joe Biden said in July.  

CIA Director Bill Burns and Secretary of State Antony Blinken had echoed Biden’s sentiments, with Burns noting Putin has a long history of payback. 

“In my experience, Putin is the ultimate apostle of payback. So I would be surprised if Prigozhin escapes further retribution for this. So in that sense, the president's right. If I were Prigozhin, I wouldn't fire my food taster,” Burns said later in July.

“If I were Mr. Prigozhin, I would remain very concerned. NATO has an open-door policy; Russia has an open-windows policy," Blinken also said in July.

The State Department and the National Security Council have not responded to requests for comment on Russian state media’s reports about the plane crash.

2:35 p.m. ET, August 23, 2023

Biden has been briefed on the Russian plane crash

From CNN's Alex Marquardt and Kevin Liptak

US President Joe Biden has been briefed on the reported plane crash in Russia, the White House said.

A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council said “no one should be surprised” if the reports that Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin was aboard the crashed plane are confirmed.

“We have seen the reports. If confirmed, no one should be surprised. The disastrous war in Ukraine led to a private army marching on Moscow, and now – it would seem — to this,” council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement.

2:30 p.m. ET, August 23, 2023

Russian Investigative Committee launches criminal case following plane crash

From Mariya Knight

The Russian Investigative Committee said it has initiated "a criminal case" following the crash of the Embraer Legacy aircraft.

Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin was listed among passengers on board.

The committee said the case was based on Article 263 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, which involves the violation of the rules of traffic safety and operation of air transport.

An investigation team is on the way to the scene, it added. "All the necessary forensic examinations will be appointed, a set of investigative actions will be carried out to establish the causes of the crash."

2:28 p.m. ET, August 23, 2023

Russian aviation authority launches special commission to investigate plane crash

From Mariya Knight

The Russian state aviation authority Rosaviation says that a specially created commission "has begun investigating the circumstances and causes of the accident with the Embraer-135 aircraft, which occurred on August 23 in the Tver region."

The authority's statement said the plane belonged to MNT-Aero LLC, which specializes in business transportation.

"According to preliminary data, there were seven passengers and three crew members on board the aircraft, which flew on the Moscow-St. Petersburg route," the authority said.

"The Commission of the Federal Air Transport Agency is starting initial actions at the scene of the accident, and has also begun collecting factual materials on the training of the crew, the technical condition of the aircraft, the meteorological situation on the flight route, the work of dispatch services and ground radio equipment," the statement added.  

"At this stage of the investigation, specialists will also have to search for on-board means of objective control for their subsequent decoding and analysis of the records of the "black box," the authority said.

 

2:28 p.m. ET, August 23, 2023

Numbers on plane engine debris seen at apparent crash site match plane registered to Prigozhin

From CNN's Paul Murphy and Tim Lister

A view shows smoke rising above a plane on fire in the Tver region, Russia, in this still image from video published on Wednesday.
A view shows smoke rising above a plane on fire in the Tver region, Russia, in this still image from video published on Wednesday. Ostorozhno Novosti/Reuters

Video of plane engine debris taken at the purported crash site in the Tver region northwest of Moscow matches a plane registered to Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin.

In the video, the last four digits of a registration number on the still-burning engine debris are seen — 2795.

Prigozhin's plane is registered as RA-02795. 

An additional analysis of the debris, compared with past photos of the plane, also shows that distinct features of the engine, including its color, match the plane.

Video released by official Russian news agency RIA Novosti shows a plane matching the size and shape of the Embraer falling from the sky almost vertically.

The plane had reached an altitude of some 26,000 feet, according to flight data, before ceasing to transmit information.

 

2:28 p.m. ET, August 23, 2023

Plane stopped transmitting data soon after 6 p.m. local time, flight tracking data shows 

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy

A plane is seen falling following an alleged air accident in the Tver region, Russia, in this still image from video published on Wednesday.
A plane is seen falling following an alleged air accident in the Tver region, Russia, in this still image from video published on Wednesday. Ostorozhno Novosti/Reuters

The transponders of a plane that crashed north of Moscow stopped transmitting data around 6:11 p.m. local time, according to flight tracking data from FlightRadar24. 

Flight data showed an Embraer Legacy registered to Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin at a cruising altitude over the Tver region after departing a Moscow airport, before data transmission of speed and altitude stopped.

Prigozhin is listed among passengers on board the crashed plane, according to Russian state media.

The plane is believed in the past to have ferried Prigozhin from Rostov-on-Don — which became the headquarters for his short-lived mutiny in June — to Moscow, St. Petersburg and Belarus.

It's unclear what caused the crash, and flight transponder data tracked by FlightRadar24 doesn't offer many clues. 

That data does not show a steep descent before the plane stopped transmitting data, over the Russian region of Tver.  

The plane's destination is also unclear from the tracking data, but Russian authorities have said the aircraft was bound for St. Petersburg.

 

2:27 p.m. ET, August 23, 2023

The bodies of 4 people have been found at the Embraer crash site, state media reports

From Mariya Knight and Josh Pennington

The bodies of four people have been found at the crash site in Tver, according to the Russian Emergency services, per Russian state media TASS.

The plane "burned up" on impact after being in the air for about half an hour, TASS reported.

 

2:27 p.m. ET, August 23, 2023

Russian emergency services confirm Embraer crash north of Moscow

From Mariya Knight

A  plane wreckage is seen on fire following an alleged air acciden in the Tver region of Russia on Wednesday.
A plane wreckage is seen on fire following an alleged air acciden in the Tver region of Russia on Wednesday. Ostorozhno Novosti/Reuters

An Embraer aircraft crashed near the village of Kuzhenkino in the Tver region, Russian Emergency services said.

The private Embraer Legacy aircraft crashed while flying from Moscow to St. Petersburg, the agency added.

There were 10 people on board, including three crew members. According to preliminary information, all on board were killed.

"We are conducting search operations," the agency said.