A smiling Vladimir Putin enjoyed a kiss from a female admirer and soaked up the adulation of a crowd at an event in Russia – soon after his former friend and Wagner warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin‘s plane exploded.

Prigozhin, once a close ally of Putin before he launched a mutiny against him in June, has been listed as one of the 10 passengers onboard a doomed plane that crashed into a ball of flames, killing all on board, by Russian authorities.

But as reports swirled that the feared Wagner chief had been killed, Putin showed no signs of misery last night at a concert celebrating the 80th anniversary of the Soviet’s Second World War victory at the Battle of Kursk. 

Video shows the dictator, surrounded by bodyguards, walking out to a cheering crowd who scream ‘we are with you, we love you’ before a woman dressed in a pink jacket cries: ‘Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin], my favourite.’

Putin, basking in the attention, let the woman walk though his bodyguards to plant an enthusiastic kiss on his face.

‘Kisses and love you. Thank you, be healthy,’ she told Putin, to which the smiling dictator replied, ‘Likewise’. 

A smiling Vladimir Putin enjoyed a kiss from a female admirer and soaked up the adulation of a crowd at an event in Moscow - soon after his former friend and Wagner warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin 's plane exploded

A smiling Vladimir Putin enjoyed a kiss from a female admirer and soaked up the adulation of a crowd at an event in Moscow - soon after his former friend and Wagner warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin 's plane exploded

A smiling Vladimir Putin enjoyed a kiss from a female admirer and soaked up the adulation of a crowd at an event in Moscow – soon after his former friend and Wagner warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin ‘s plane exploded

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Putin, basking in the attention, let the woman walk though his bodyguards to plant an enthusiastic kiss on his face.

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Prigozhin has been listed as one of the 10 passengers onboard a doomed plane that crashed into a ball of flames, killing all on board, by Russian authorities – two months to the day after he led a short-lived munity against Moscow

And during a speech during a summit of the BRICS group of nations this morning, Putin again made no mention of Prigozhin and the crash

And during a speech during a summit of the BRICS group of nations this morning, Putin again made no mention of Prigozhin and the crash

And during a speech during a summit of the BRICS group of nations this morning, Putin again made no mention of Prigozhin and the crash

Since the pandemic and the start of war, Putin has seldom allowed people to spontaneously come close to him for health and security reasons.

The footage shows him unusually relaxed after a speech on the key battle at an event in Kursk, Russia – despite knowing his erstwhile friend was likely dead in the horror air crash some three hours earlier.

And during a speech during a summit of the BRICS group of nations this morning, Putin again made no mention of Prigozhin and the crash. 

For years Prigozhin was a faithful ally for Putin – running Kremlin banquets, providing catering for the Russian government, running propaganda troll farms, and setting up a ruthless private army, Wagner. 

Yet his attempt at a short-lived mutiny against Moscow in June was seen as betrayal by the dictator.

While Prigozhin has been named as being onboard the doomed plane that crashed, there has still been no confirmation that the warlord, who has been a thorn in Putin’s side since the Ukraine war began, has died. 

The Investigative Committee of Russia, which is looking into the crash, this morning confirmed 10 people were killed in the crash with no mention of Prigozhin. 

But while there has been no official confirmation of Prigozhin’s death, the warlord’s supporters have claimed he is dead and hailed him a hero and patriot who they said had died at the hands of unidentified people it called ‘traitors to Russia’. 

On Thursday morning, at the scene of the crash site, Russian officials stretchered black body bags from a forested area. Parts of the plane’s tail and other fragments lay on the ground near where forensic investigators had erected a tent.

Emergency specialists carry a body bag near wreckages of the private jet linked to Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin at the crash site in the Tver region, Russia, on Thursday

Emergency specialists carry a body bag near wreckages of the private jet linked to Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin at the crash site in the Tver region, Russia, on Thursday

Emergency specialists carry a body bag near wreckages of the private jet linked to Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin at the crash site in the Tver region, Russia, on Thursday

A view of the site after a private jet carrying 10 people - reportedly including Prigozhin

A view of the site after a private jet carrying 10 people - reportedly including Prigozhin

A view of the site after a private jet carrying 10 people – reportedly including Prigozhin 

Prigozhin has had long-established links to the Kremlin and until recently led the Wagner mercenary unit

Prigozhin has had long-established links to the Kremlin and until recently led the Wagner mercenary unit

Prigozhin has had long-established links to the Kremlin and until recently led the Wagner mercenary unit

Whoever or whatever was behind the crash, Prigozhin’s death would rid Putin of someone who had mounted the most serious challenge to the Russian leader’s authority since he came to power in 1999. 

Others who have opposed Putin or his interests have also died under unclear circumstances or come close to death, including outspoken political leaders and journalists. The Kremlin has always denied any state involvement in such incidents. 

Prigozhin’s death would also leave the Wagner Group, which incurred Putin’s wrath in June by staging an abortive armed mutiny against the army’s top brass, leaderless and raise questions about its future operations in Africa and elsewhere. 

The Brazilian Embraer Legacy 600 model of executive jet that crashed has only recorded one accident in over 20 years of service, according to website International Aviation HQ, and it was not due to mechanical failure.

Embraer said it has complied with international sanctions imposed on Russia and had not provided maintenance for the aircraft since 2019.

A specialist works at the site of a crash of a private jet linked to Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin in the Tver region on Thursday

A specialist works at the site of a crash of a private jet linked to Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin in the Tver region on Thursday

A specialist works at the site of a crash of a private jet linked to Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin in the Tver region on Thursday 

Plumes of smoke from the blaze, said to be of the plane, could be seen for miles around, video on social media shows

Plumes of smoke from the blaze, said to be of the plane, could be seen for miles around, video on social media shows

Plumes of smoke from the blaze, said to be of the plane, could be seen for miles around, video on social media shows

The plane showed no sign of a problem until a precipitous drop in its final 30 seconds, according to flight-tracking data.

Video footage purportedly shows the aircraft falling out of the sky in the Bologovsky district in the Tver region, 60 miles north of Moscow, on Wednesday. A burning wreckage, which appears to be of a plane, was later seen in a field, with unconfirmed images showing it completely ablaze. 

Prigozhin, 62, has been increasingly careful since he led a coup against Putin’s regime exactly two months ago.

After its failure, he had been warned that his life was in danger. He was known to take huge care over his security and is rumoured to have not been onboard the fateful plane, despite state TV asserting otherwise.

Sources close to him said that while the aircraft belonged to him, he usually flew on another aircraft.

Another plane, also supposedly with links to Prigozhin, was detected ‘zig-zagging’ over Moscow in the aftermath of the crash, fuelling speculation that the Wagner boss may not have been onboard after all.

Tracking data available for the crashed plane appears to show it rise to around 29,000ft, before suddenly disappearing and dropping to 0ft. 

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