Video has emerged showing the moment a plane – which had mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin on board – was seen plummeting towards the ground.
In the footage, the aircraft spirals out of the sky towards the ground, followed by a trail of smoke.
The private jet, which initially is at high altitude, appears to be totally out of control and goes into a vertical dive just before it apparently smashes into a field.
A plume of thick black smoke rises from the crash scene seconds later.
The weather appears to be fine at the time, with just a few clouds in the sky.
Another video shows an aircraft fuselage on the ground in flames.
The Russian Civil Aviation Authority confirmed Prigozhin, who was head of the Wagner Group, and Wagner commander Dmitry Utkin were on board.
Earlier, it said Prigozhin was listed as a passenger on the private jet.
The plane, carrying three pilots and seven passengers, came down north of Moscow and was travelling from the capital to St Petersburg.
TASS news agency reported 10 people were on board, while Russian state news agency RIA later reported eight bodies had been discovered at the crash site, citing emergency services.
There were no survivors, according to Russian authorities.
Flight tracking data showed a private jet, registered to Wagner and which Prigozhin had previously used, took off from Moscow on Wednesday evening and its transponder signal disappeared minutes later.
The signal was lost in a rural region with no nearby airfields where the aircraft could have landed safely.
Read more: Profile of Yevgeny Prigozhin
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Wagner Group ‘in Africa’
The mercenary chief – who was sent to Belarus in the aftermath of his forces’ march on Moscow – released footage of himself speaking while wearing camouflage and holding a rifle.
It is believed from the footage that Prigozhin at the time was in Africa. In the video, he talked about Russia making the continent “free”.
Prigozhin also described how Wagner was tackling terrorist groups in the region and added the group wanted to increase its presence in Africa.
He later shared details about Wagner’s recruitment in the video, which was accompanied by a telephone number for those who want to join.
Written by: Newsroom