Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin was on the passenger list of a jet which crashed killing all on board, Russia’s civil aviation authority has said.
Earlier, Wagner-linked Telegram channel Grey Zone reported the Embraer aircraft was shot down by air defences in the Tver region, north of Moscow.
The private jet, which was flying from Moscow to St Petersburg, was carrying seven passengers and three crew.
Prigozhin led a failed mutiny against the Russian armed forces in June.
Grey Zone said local residents heard two bangs before the crash and saw two vapour trails.
Tass news agency said the plane, an Embraer Legacy belonging to Prigozhin, caught fire on hitting the ground.
The aircraft had been in the air for less than half an hour, it said.
An investigation has been launched into the crash and emergency services are searching the site.
Another news agency, Ria, said eight bodies had been recovered.
Grey Zone reports that a second business jet owned by Prigozhin landed safely in the Moscow region.