The son of the Wagner Group’s mercenary boss may have given away their secretive location in Ukraine before it was bombed by Kyiv forces, killing dozens of his comrades, the media reported.
Pavel Prigozhin, the son of the feared private military group’s chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, allegedly posted a photo on social media in front of the Zhdanova guest house in the city of Kadiivka where the mercenaries were holed up, the Daily Mail reported.
Then on Saturday at 8.30 p.m., Ukrainian forces blitzed the Luhansk hotel, with 18 believed dead and 50 injured, after the giveaway image was shared online.
Reports claim the guest house, which had been occupied since 2014, was carried out with the US-supplied HIMARS rockets.
Photos posted on Telegram channels showed a building largely reduced to rubble.
Serhiy Gaidai, the exiled governor of the region, told Ukrainian television local forces had targeted it because members of the private Wagner military group were based there, although it was not known how they knew, Daily Mail reported.
“They had a little pop there, just where Wagner headquarters was located” he said. “A huge number of those who were there died.”
Now, it has been claimed that Prigozhin’s photo posted on Telegram before the strike revealed the location to the Ukrainian army, Daily Mail reported.
Pro-Kremlin channel ZOV News said: “A photo of the same hotel in Kadiivka that was destroyed today by the Ukrainian Armed Forces of Himars was found in a reader’s archive.
“The man next to the hotel is the son of Yevgeny Prigozhin.”
Investigators at Bellingcat also say the photo could show the chief’s son, saying: “I don’t think we can say for sure just by looking at this picture, as the photo is too blurry, but I can’t see anything that rules him out.”
It is believed Ukrainian intelligence forces may have been following Prigozhin on Telegram and recongised the hotel before carrying out the strike, Daily Mail reported.
He had been fighting in Ukraine just days before the attack with the Russian mercenary army.
Moscow-backed local officials in Luhansk confirmed that a Ukrainian strike destroyed a hotel building in Kadiivka but claimed it was unused.
The Wagner group is a private military contractor with close ties to the Kremlin. Its forces are known to be fighting in parts of Ukraine and have also been deployed in a number of African countries, Daily Mail reported.