Yevgeny Viktorovich Prigozhin, born on June 1, 1961, is a prominent Russian oligarch, mercenary chief, and a trusted associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Known by the nickname “Putin’s chef,” Prigozhin has built a vast empire of businesses, including restaurants and catering companies that serve the Kremlin. His influence extends to various spheres, as he controls the Russian state-backed mercenary group known as the Wagner Group and three companies accused of interfering in the 2016 and 2018 US elections. Investigations have revealed a close integration of Prigozhin’s activities with Russia’s Defense Ministry and its intelligence arm, the GRU.
In September 2022, Prigozhin confirmed his role as the founder of the Wagner Group, which he established in May 2014 to support Russian forces in the Donbas region. His admission came after a video went viral, showing him recruiting inmates in a Mari El prison for the Wagner Group. Previously, Prigozhin denied involvement in Russian interference in US elections, but later admitted his role in such operations and expressed the intent to continue them. He also revealed himself as the founder and long-time manager of the Internet Research Agency, a Russian company accused of engaging in online propaganda operations.
Yevgeny Prigozhin: From Putin’s Chef to Controversial Figure – A Journey of Intrigue and Conflict
Prigozhin and his associated companies face economic sanctions and criminal charges in the United States, while in the United Kingdom, he remains a designated person under sanctions. The FBI has offered a reward for information leading to his arrest. The European Union (EU) has also imposed sanctions on Prigozhin for his financing of the Wagner Group in Libya and his role in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
In June 2023, Prigozhin launched a mutiny against the Russian military leadership and announced his forces’ movement into Russia.
Facts about Yevgeny Prigozhin
- Yevgeny Viktorovich Prigozhin was born on June 1, 1961, in Leningrad, which is now known as Saint Petersburg.
- Prigozhin earned the nickname “Putin’s chef” due to his ownership of restaurants and catering companies that provide services for the Kremlin.
- He was once a convict in the Soviet Union but later built a network of influential companies, including the Wagner Group and three companies accused of interfering in US elections.
- Prigozhin’s activities have been closely linked to Russia’s Defense Ministry and the GRU, its intelligence arm.
- He confirmed his role as the founder of the Wagner Group in September 2022, stating that he established it in 2014 to support Russian forces in the war in Donbas.
- Prigozhin admitted his involvement in Russian interference in US elections and revealed himself as the founder and manager of the Internet Research Agency.
- He is wanted by the FBI for electoral interference and faces criminal charges in the United States.
- Prigozhin and his associated companies are subject to economic sanctions in the United States and the United Kingdom.
- The European Union has imposed sanctions on Prigozhin for his financing of the Wagner Group and his role in the Russian Invasion of Ukraine.
- In June 2023, Prigozhin initiated a mutiny against the Russian military leadership and announced the movement of his forces into Russia.
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