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Founder of Russia’s Wagner Group Involved in Fatal Plane Crash Amidst Political Tensions



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Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of Russia’s Wagner Group has been reportedly involved in a tragic plane crash that claimed 10 lives near Moscow, according to state media reports.

The incident occurred as a business jet traveling from Moscow to St. Petersburg crashed in the Tver region, as reported by the TASS news agency. Prigozhin was among the passengers listed by the Federal Air Transport Agency, although it remains uncertain whether he is among the reported fatalities. An investigation into the crash has been initiated.

The U.S. Pentagon has been monitoring the situation, with the White House National Security Council spokesperson, Adrienne Watson, stating, “We have seen the reports. If confirmed, no one should be surprised.” Watson linked the incident to the repercussions of the ongoing war in Ukraine and its wider geopolitical implications.

Despite news of the crash, Vladimir Putin appeared at a public concert in Russia. Prigozhin’s involvement in the Wagner Group’s activities had recently raised significant concerns within Putin’s regime. In June, Prigozhin orchestrated a noteworthy challenge to Putin’s leadership by marching his substantial mercenary forces to within 125 miles of Moscow. However, he abruptly halted the operation, directing his troops to return home before seeking refuge in Belarus.

According to Fox News, days before the crash, Prigozhin posted a video on Telegram from an undisclosed location in Africa, proclaiming the Wagner Group’s mission to make Russia “greater” and Africa “freer.” The video depicted Prigozhin asserting that the Wagner Group was engaged in reconnaissance activities and contributing to Russia’s influence across continents.

Prigozhin’s past involvement in critiquing Russia’s military performance in Ukraine led him to call for an armed uprising on June 23. Despite Putin branding him a traitor, a subsequent meeting between Putin and Prigozhin led to the dropping of rebellion charges against him. The Wagner Group, which Prigozhin founded, has been utilized by the Kremlin since 2014 to expand Russia’s influence in the Middle East and Africa.

The recent plane crash adds another layer of complexity to the evolving dynamics between Prigozhin, the Wagner Group, and the Russian government. As the details continue to emerge, the incident underscores the high-stakes political intrigue and power struggles within Russia’s political landscape.

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Columbia alumni are also anti-Israel, threaten to withhold $77 million in donations



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2,000 people claiming to be Columbia University alumni have signed a letter pledging to “withhold all financial, programmatic, and academic support” from the institution until it meets the demands of anti-Israel protesters. The result is $77 million in donations is at risk.

National Review reports that the letter, addressed to Columbia president Minouche Shafik and the school’s trustees, expresses support for the protesters who oppose the university’s “continued collaboration with the Israeli government’s ongoing genocidal violence against Palestinians.”

“The movement for Palestinian liberation, on campus and globally, is often led by Jewish people of many nations,” the letter says. “Weaponizing claims about antisemitism to silence student speech is based on faulty logic, harms Jewish students, and distracts from true antisemitism, including the attempts by a craven American right to tokenize, exploit, and appropriate Jewish trauma and resilience.”

There does not appear to be a process to verify that people who sign the letters are, in fact, Columbia alumni. It allows people to sign anonymously.

The letter condemns the “administration’s brutal repression of student speech and assembly,” specifically president Shafik’s decision to call in the New York Police Department Strategic Response Group on protesters. Hundreds of anti-Israel protesters were arrested at Columbia and at the City College of New York on April 30, including some who barricaded themselves inside a campus admissions building.

Signatories of the letter are pledging to withhold donations until the university meets 13 demands, including: that it divests from companies that “fund or profit from Israeli apartheid, genocide, and occupation of Palestine”; calls for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war; removes Shafik as president; bans the NYPD from campus; and drops charges against student activists, reverses disciplinary measures against them, and finances the healthcare for students who were “brutalized” by the police.

The website where the letter is shared claims that the signatories have previously provided over $67 million in financial contributions to Columbia, and that over $77 million in donations are now at risk.

The letter also claims that the university “failed to hold accountable the former Israeli soldiers who carried out a chemical attack on protesting students in January 2024.” That seems to be a reference to an incident involving anti-Israel protesters who told the student-run Columbia Spectator that during a demonstration earlier this year they were sprayed with “skunk,” a chemical developed by the Israeli Defense Forces.

While this letter is from supporters of the anti-Israel protesters, Columbia has also received pushback from opponents who say the school is allowing protesters to break the law, disrupt the educational environment, and harass Jewish students, adds National Review.

On Monday, 13 federal judges sent a letter to Columbia leaders saying they will no longer hire the school’s students as clerks due to their behavior and the school’s mismanagement of anti-Israel protests, writing that “Columbia has disqualified itself from educating the future leaders of our country.”

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a Columbia alumnus, said in April that he would withhold donations from the university due to the anti-Israel protests.

“I am deeply saddened at the virulent hate that continues to grow on campus and throughout our country,” Kraft said in a statement. “I am no longer confident that Columbia can protect its students and staff and I am not comfortable supporting the university until corrective action is taken.”





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