Who is Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian businessman and close associate of Putin

The Washington Post reported that Yevgeny Prigozhin shared with Vladimir Putin his concerns about the war in Ukraine.

Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin appears before meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia.

Sergei Ilnitsky / Pool Photo via AP

As reports circulated about Russia’s losses in Ukraine in September, a member of Vladimir Putin’s circle voiced concerns to the president about the Kremlin’s handling of the war.

Tuesday, The Washington Post reported That the close person was Yevgeny F. Prigozhin, a Russian businessman, restaurateur and longtime ally of Putin.

Prigozhin denied the report by The Post, saying that he “did not criticize the management of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation during the conflict in Ukraine”.

But Prigozhin has previously expressed criticism of the country’s military leadership.

When the President of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov summoned a Russian commander and high-ranking officers after Russia Forced out of Lyman In Ukraine, Prigozhin echoed those criticisms, According to the BBC.

Here’s what we know about Prigozhin:

Before making his fortune, Prigozhin served several years in a Russian penal colony.

Yevgeny Prigozhin in a suit, indicating

Prigozhin on August 9, 2016.

Alexander Zemlianchenko/AFP

Born on June 1, 1961 in Leningrad, now Saint Petersburg, Russia, Prigozhin was convicted of assault, robbery and fraud in 1981, According to court documents obtained by Medusa, an independent Russian publication.

He was sentenced to 13 years in a criminal colony, but was released in about nine years upon the fall of the Soviet Union.

According to the New York Times,Prigozhin began his entry into the food business shortly after his release by opening a sausage stand.

He then opened a small shop before starting a luxury restaurant chain with a few partners in Saint Petersburg. The newspaper reported that Putin will celebrate his birthday in a restaurant.

He received the nickname “Putin’s Chef”.

Evgeny Prigozhin .JPG

Prigozhin serves a Putin dinner at the Cheval Blanc restaurant outside Moscow, Russia, on November 11, 2011.

Misha Gabaridze / PAUL / REUTERS

Prigozhin founded one of his major companies, Concord Catering, in 1996 where he started his restaurant business, Wired reported.

Although he’s not really a chef, according to The Times, he quickly earned the nickname “Putin’s chef. “

It is unclear when he received this title, but over the next decade, Prigozhin’s restaurant business received lucrative government contracts to feed schools and the military in Russia, as well as the opportunity to host state banquets.

The Times reported that Concorde Katring served at the inauguration of Dmitry Medvedev and Putin.

State contracts in a five-year period were reported to be $3.1 billion, according to an investigation by the anti-corruption agency cited by The Times.

He also heads other companies and funded a company that was accused of interfering in the US election.

Yevgeny Prigozhin

Prigozhin at the meeting of foreign investors in St. Petersburg in 2016.

Mikhail Svetlov / Getty Images

In addition to his work in the catering business, Prigozhin is known to have founded the management and consulting company Concorde, and started his own online news service, according to The Times.

a 2018 indictment from the Ministry of Justice It was also alleged that Prigozhin financed the so-called troll factory known as the Internet Research Agency.

The indictment, which included 12 other Russians and Prigozhin’s catering and consulting service company Concorde, alleged that the Internet Research Agency “engaged in operations to interfere in elections and political processes.”

The company has done this in part by creating “fake American characters” and running social media pages that discuss politics and social issues. Prigozhin denied his involvement.

“Americans are very impressionable people; they see what they want to see,” Prigozhin told Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency. “I have a lot of respect for them. I’m not at all upset that I ended up on this list. If they want to see the devil, let them see it.”

He recently claimed to have founded Wagner, a Russian mercenary group, after years of denial.

Yevgeny Prigozhin


Mikhail Svetlov / Getty Images

In September, Prigozhin claimed to be one of the founders of a Russian mercenary group known as Wagner after years of denying his involvement with the organization.

“I cleaned the old weapons myself, sorted out flak jackets myself, and found specialists who could help me with this. From that moment, on May 1, 2014, a group of patriots was born, which later became the Wagner Battalion,” Prigogine said through his press service, which confirmed the statement to Reuters.

Wagner was established in 2014. It is not a legally registered entity and mercenaries are illegal under Russian law, According to the Times. But the group is still seen as a de facto private military service of the Kremlin.

According to the BBCWagner’s forces were first deployed during Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Wagner also sent soldiers across Africa and the Middle East, According to the Times. UN investigators accused the group of committing war crimes in 2021.

at recent days, Wagner helped Putin invade Ukraine. In March, US officials said at least 1,000 mercenary fighters were deployed to the country.

“We know they’re there,” Said John F. Kirby, Pentagon press secretary, briefing at Markh. And we know that they want to increase their presence there in Ukraine.”

For decades, the oligarchy has won Putin’s ear.

Putin and Prigozhin wear white coats, with the latter pointing at something outside the camera

Prigozhin shows Putin a lunch factory at his school outside Saint Petersburg on September 20, 2010.

Alexey Druzhinin/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

Prigozhin became close to Putin, even in state affairs, having first contacted the Russian leader through his restaurants.

With his supposed control of the Wagner mercenary group, he was also an influential player during Russia’s war in Ukraine, personally expressing his concerns about operations to Putin, According to the Washington Post,.

The newspaper reported that a US intelligence report showed that Prigozhin felt that the Russian Defense Ministry relied too much on Wagner and that his organization was not receiving sufficient funds.

US officials believe Prigozhin then released a video depicting Wagner forces complaining of a lack of resources as a way to pressure Russia to provide more money, the Washington Post reported.

Prigozhin told The Post that he had not seen the referenced video.

See also  The West seeks to convince the G-20 that Russia's war in Ukraine is responsible for global economic suffering | G20

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