German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has warned against speculation over the crash of the plane which authorities said was carrying Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, reported dpa.
The Russian government agency in charge of civil aviation, Rosaviatsiya, cited a passenger list saying that Prigozhin was one of the 10 people on board the Embraer plane, and said there were no survivors in the crash.
Still, neither Rosaviatsiya nor any other Russian official have yet said unequivocally that Prigozhin died.
"No quick conclusions can be drawn," the Green Party politician told Deutschlandfunk radio on Thursday.
However, she said, the incident underscores "that a system, that a power, that a dictatorship that is built on violence, will also only recognize violence internally."
Asked about the future of the mercenary force, Baerbock said she feared "Russia will continue with its cynical game, with or without Wagner, not only in Ukraine but above all in Africa."
Prigozhin and Wagner are responsible for terrible acts "against the Ukrainian people and in country after country in Africa," Baerbock said.
The plane carrying seven passengers and three crew members went down near the community of Kuzhenkino in the Tver Region, about 300 kilometres north-west of the Russian capital.
The incident, which remained shrouded in mystery on Thursday morning, ignited speculation about what lay behind the presumed death of Prigozhin, who was an outspoken critic of top Russian defence officials.
The pro-Kremlin television station Tsargrad TV reported — citing its own sources — that Prigozhin's body had been provisionally identified, but that DNA analyses were still pending.
- German FM
- Prigozhin jet crash