Viral photos do not show Yevgeny Prigozhin on a train this year

28 March 2024
What was claimed

Photos show Yevgeny Prigozhin sitting on a train.

Our verdict

Mr Prigozhin is widely reported to have died in August 2023. Differently shaped ears suggest the man in the photos is another person.

Viral photos of a man on a train are being shared with the suggestion they show the former director of Russia’s Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was widely reported to have died last year. 

The photos show the profile of a man looking out of the window on a train. They have been shared on Facebook with captions including: “HE HAS RISEN Yvgeny Prigozhin spotted on a train peeps” and “Prigozhin on the train?.Mastermind of Wagner Group is not dead? [sic]”.

The photos from the train appear to have first been shared by an X account with the handle @runews on 13 March, months after the date he is believed to have died. The post has more than 3,700 shares and the caption: “What?”

While it is possible that this is an old photo of Mr Prigozhin that has recently surfaced, there are some visible physical differences that suggest it is an entirely different man. 

Photos of Mr Prigozhin show he had a creased line bisecting his earlobe, which is known as a Diagonal Earlobe Crease (DELC), and his lobe is raised from the cartilage at the edge of his ear. Mr Prigozhin also had a more pronounced antitragus, and the ridge of cartilage in the centre of his ear, known as the antihelix, is a different shape in the ear of the man seen in the photos.

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Who was Yevgeny Prigozhin?

Russian oligarch Mr Prigozhin claimed to have founded a private military company, the Wagner Group, in 2014. It fought for Russia and its allies in countries including Ukraine, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Mali and the Central African Republic. It was proscribed as a terrorist organisation by the UK government in September 2023

In June 2023, two months before the plane crash, Mr Prigozhin launched a rebellion against President Putin which ended soon afterwards

Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency reported that Mr Prigozhin was aboard a plane that crashed in August 2023 with no survivors, and an Investigative Committee of Russia confirmed his death following genetic analysis. Russian-language media reported that Mr Prigozhin’s body had been identified and that his phone was found in the wreckage. 

International media organisations have also reported Mr Prigozhin to be dead, with some reports specifying that he is “presumed” or “reportedly” dead according to Russian authorities. 

Full Fact has previously written about other social media posts falsely identifying individuals from photos, including an IDF chief of staff, US troops killed in air strikes and a British general who supposedly died in Gaza

Image courtesy of UPI

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