Russia refuses to probe Prigozhin plane crash under international rule: Report

Moscow: Aircraft investigators from Russia have declined to conduct an immediate investigation into the tragic crash of a Brazilian-manufactured Embraer jet that resulted in the death of Yevgeny Prigozhin, a prominent mercenary figure. According to Brazil’s aircraft investigation authority, Russia relayed this decision, informing them that the crash would not be probed under international regulations at this juncture.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, along with high-ranking associates from his Wagner Group and personal security personnel, lost their lives in the crash of the Embraer Legacy 600, which occurred in the northern vicinity of Moscow recently. The crash, which came exactly two months after Prigozhin led a brief insurrection against Russia’s defense establishment, is being seen as a significant challenge to President Vladimir Putin’s tenure, potentially the most substantial since his ascent to power in 1999.

In response to this development, Brazil’s Center for Research and Prevention of Aeronautical Accidents (CENIPA) had offered to join a collaborative investigation led by Russia if they received an invitation to do so, and if the inquiry adhered to internationally recognized protocols. However, Russia’s aviation authority, although not compelled to accept the offer, has chosen not to proceed with such a collaborative investigation.

This move has prompted certain former investigators to suggest that Russia should have considered the collaboration, especially given the suspicions of some Western nations, including the US, that the crash might have been orchestrated by the Kremlin. The Kremlin, however, has categorically denied any involvement in the incident.

The Russian decision holds weight as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) clarifies that the flight was domestic, which means it does not come under the regulations stipulated in “Annex 13”, the legal framework governing international air crash investigations.

The Brazilian authorities express their willingness to participate in the investigation from a distance should Russia decide to open an inquiry and extend an invitation. Embraer, the manufacturer of the aircraft, refrained from commenting on the situation, while concerns mount regarding obtaining information from the investigation due to international sanctions on Russia and the reluctance of Russian authorities to permit external scrutiny.

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