Russian President Vladimir Putin has indirectly confirmed the death of the Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, the day after the crash of a jet which authorities said he was travelling on.

In an apparent tribute to his former close confidante – whose fighters played a crucial combat role in Ukraine – Putin called Prigozhin a “talented man,” adding that he made serious mistakes in his life, Russian news agencies reported.

“He was a man of a complicated fate. He made some serious mistakes in his life, but he also achieved the needed results – both for himself and, when I asked him to, for the common cause,” Putin added.

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He was speaking at a meeting with the Russian head of the Donetsk administration, Denis Pushilin.

The Russian government agency in charge of civil aviation, Rosaviatsiya, said Prigozhin, as well as top Wagner commander Dmitri Utkin, were among the 10 people on board the Embraer plane that crashed on Wednesday in the Tver Region, about 300 kilometres north-west of the Russian capital.

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It said there were no survivors.

No cause was given for the deadly crash, but speculation was rife, in particular after Putin had vowed “inevitable punishment” against the mutiny leaders who he had accused of “treason.”

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It took nearly 24 hours for Putin to react publicly to the crash of the business jet.

The Russian leader didn’t imply that Moscow had any part in the plane crash.

He stressed instead that Prigozhin’s mercenary force had played a decisive role in the fighting in Ukraine, one which would not be forgotten, NAN reports.