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The Media Lens

Sameera Casmod |
31 August 2023 | 11:05am SAST
2-min read


In this week’s Media Lens with Ibrahim Deen, the Wagner plane crash was discussed. On Wednesday, 23 August 2023, a private plane crashed outside Moscow.  Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, was among 10 people who died in the crash. Prigozhin had a history of military contracts and a connection to the Russian President. He founded the Wagner group in 2013, which has played a significant role in various countries, notably Sudan, the Central African Republic, and Ukraine.

Prigozhin’s march on Moscow, following which he was deemed a traitor by Putin, further complicates the narrative. The crash occurred just a week ago, raising questions about whether it was orchestrated or accidental. Initial reports suggested that the plane had been shot down, but evidence points to an onboard explosion.

Deen highlighted the reliability of the Embraer Legacy 600 plane Prigozhin was traveling on, which has raised suspicions of foul play. Many question whether the Kremlin might have been involved, given the circumstances surrounding the crash. The fact that two planes were flying simultaneously, with only one meeting tragedy, has fuelled speculation about intentional targeting.

The funeral of Yevgeny Prigozhin and Wagner’s second-in-command, Dmitry Utkin, who had a significant role in the group’s military strategies, occurred just days ago. Speculation about the possibility of Prigozhin staging his own death surfaced, with public opinion in Russia appearing to align with this.

Deen underlined the need for nuanced media coverage, particularly in the context of the Russian-Ukraine conflict. He pointed out the lack of focus on Wagner’s presence in Africa and the group’s destabilising impact on the continent. He also highlighted the danger of oversimplification, where Western media often portrays Russia as the villain and Ukraine as the victim.

Addressing the implications for Africa and the Middle East, Deen discussed the central control that Prigozhin and Utkin had over the Wagner group. The charismatic leadership and military expertise contributed to the group’s effectiveness, particularly in extractive activities across Africa. Although the crash might temporarily disrupt operations, the underlying activities are unlikely to cease entirely.

Deen underlined the importance of African nations responding proactively to potential power vacuums that could arise. He noted the possibility of other groups emerging to fill the void left by Wagner, particularly in resource-rich regions.

Listen to the Media Lens on Sabaahul Muslim with Moulana Sulaiman Ravat.


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