Russian President Vladimir Putin made his first comments about a plane crash that is believed to have killed mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin.
Putin offered the families of the people on board the plane his condolences.
"It's always a tragedy," Putin said, according to a translation of his speech from the British Broadcasting Corporation.
He didn't explicitly confirm Prigozhin was on the plane, but noted that initial information shows that the 10 individuals aboard were from the Wagner group.
Putin reportedly spoke of his "complicated" relationship with Prigozhin, whom he said he knew since the 1990s.
"He was a talented person, a talented businessman, he worked not only in our country, and worked with results, but also abroad, in Africa in particular," Putin said.
The plane presumed to have been carrying Prigozhin went down on Wednesday. A preliminary U.S. intelligence assessment shows that the crash was intentionally caused by an explosion, officials told The Associated Press.
One official told the AP that the incident is in line with Putin's “long history of trying to silence his critics.”
In June, Prigozhin and his mercenaries led a march to Moscow.
The Wagner leader called for the armed rebellion against Russia's Defense Minister, claiming the country was behind attacks on Wagner convoys in Ukraine.
Days later, Prigozhin called off the rebellion in a deal brokered by Belarus. The Wagner leader claimed at the time that he didn't want there to be bloodshed, and agreed to move to Belarus.
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