If you’re a fan of spy movies or espionage novels, the events unfolding in Russia over the past two days might seem far-fetched even for fiction writers. The man who heads the mercenary Wagner Group — Yevgeny Prigozhin, who made a fleeting attempt to overthrow Vladimir Putin in June — is now presumed dead following a plane crash near Moscow. The accident took the lives of nine other people, including the Wagner Group’s second in command.

Today in The Conversation Canada, we have two analyses from international relations academics on the stunning events. Aurel Braun of the University of Toronto argues that Prigozhin loyalists are likely already plotting their revenge against Putin. James Horncastle of Simon Fraser University has a different take: he says Prigozhin’s death — if he’s truly gone — benefits Putin, allowing him to replace one of his biggest threats with those loyal to him, and to take charge of Wagner’s vast economic empire.

Also today:

All the best.

Lee-Anne Goodman

Politics, Business + Economics Editor

People carry a body bag away from the wreckage of a crashed private jet near the Russian village of Kuzhenkinoi on Aug. 24, 2023. Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner Group, reportedly died in the crash along with nine other people. (AP Photo)

Vladimir Putin’s suspected elimination of Yevgeny Prigozhin: The hunter to become the hunted?

Aurel Braun, University of Toronto

The core members of the Wagner Group, who are loyal to the late Yevgeny Prigozhin, will likely seek revenge against Vladimir Putin for his death. Is the Russian leader now living on borrowed time?

Face masks depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin displayed at a souvenir shop in St. Petersburg, Russia. Prigozhin reportedly died in a plane crash on Aug. 23. (AP Photo, File)

Regardless of Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin’s fate, Vladimir Putin benefits

James Horncastle, Simon Fraser University

Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner Group, reportedly died when a private jet he was said to be on crashed on Aug. 23, 2023, killing all 10 people on board.

Jordan Henderson is one of several big-name footballers who have moved to the Saudi Pro League. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

Saudi Arabia’s Pro League is taking advantage of football’s greed and inequality

Alan McDougall, University of Guelph

Money talks, and sportswashing often works. Some of football’s biggest names now call the Saudi Pro League home.

The fall webworm is a moth found from Mexico to Canada. (Shutterstock)

Crowd-sourced science sheds light on how new species form across space and time

Katie Marshall, University of British Columbia; Emily Black, University of British Columbia

Crowd-sourcing images of caterpillars from nature apps allowed researchers to study the emergence of a new species of caterpillar.

La Conversation Canada

La star instantanée de l'été aux États-Unis, le chanteur country Oliver Anthony, se produit au Eagle Creek Golf Club and Grill à Moyock, en Caroline du Nord, le 19 août 2023. (Kendall Warner/The Virginian-Pilot via AP)

Comment décrypter « Rich Men North of Richmond », le succès de l’été aux États-Unis, récupéré tant par la droite populiste que par la gauche

Frédérick Guillaume Dufour, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM); Alexis Harton, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)

Bien que son contenu soit essentiellement libertarien, la chanson numéro un de l’été aux États-Unis trouve écho tant chez certains partisans démocrates qu’avec ceux de la droite trumpiste.

Environment + Energy