Evgueni Prigojine is the man we have seen in recent days recruiting in Russian prisons for the Wagner militias. He has always denied being linked to the Wagner militias. However, the man nicknamed “Putin’s cook” has been clearly identified in recent days by many sources on a video where he offers prisoners freedom in exchange for six months of service on the Ukrainian front. The language is particularly flowery: you just have to “that they don’t take drugs“nor they have”violated, women… or even fauna, flora, men, or whatever” The conclusion is chilling: “you have 5 minutes to decide.
PMC Wagner Group Evgeny Prigozhin is at a penal colony looking for new assault infantry to join his company. Refers to some of those who served 30 years in prison and died in battle as “heroes”. pic.twitter.com/Gp3IOVHuAq
— Dmitry (@wartranslated) September 14, 2022
Prigojine made his fortune in the restaurant business, hence his nickname. One of the best-known images of him also shows him facing Vladimir Putin who is seated and to whom he brings a dish. Both were born in Saint Petersburg, Leningrad at the time, Prigojine in 1961, 9 years after the Russian president. And rather than in the kitchen, it is in an Olympic delegation at the Winter Olympics that we could have found him: this son of a mining engineer studies in a sports high school and dreams of becoming a professional skier. Except that he enrolled in parallel at the Academy of Chemistry and Pharmacy. And especially that he was arrested for theft at the age of 18. The first time he gets off with a reprieve. But as he reoffends, he receives 12 years in prison. It’s more serious: theft in an organized fraud, participation in a prostitution network.
When he left in 1990, at the time of the fall of the USSR, he took advantage of this somewhat chaotic period to set up a fast food restaurant and hot dogs with his father-in-law. He took shares in the first grocery chain in the city and made a fortune by setting up a restaurant which quickly became one of the most popular in Saint Petersburg. This restaurant is moving to a boat on the Neva. It was there that he met and bonded with Vladimir Poutine, who would bring him the greats of this world, in particular Jacques Chirac in 2001, who would be served by Prigojine in person. He becomes the cook of the powerful, grabs all the state contracts, the schools, the armies, the Kremlin. And it’s starting to get noticed a bit as it displays the Double Deck Yacht, Mansion, and Private Helicopter.
In 2013, his Concord group created a real propaganda tool: the Internet research agency, which very quickly employed hundreds of people. Its goal: to destabilize Russian opponents, support opposition movements in Ukraine or Syria and try to influence elections in certain African countries, notably Madagascar and Zimbabwe.
In 2016, Washington is convinced that it is directly participating in Russian interference in the American presidential election by setting up a veritable “troll factory”. Prigojine will categorically deny and demand 50 billion dollars in compensation.
He is also suspected of financially supporting the Wagner militias, who operated in particular in the Libyan conflict. The European Union has also sanctioned him for this in 2020 by freezing his assets and banning him from his territory.
In recent years, Yevgueni Prigojine has also become the personal enemy of Alexei Navalny, the Russian opponent from whom he is demanding more than a million dollars for having affirmed in an investigation that his group Concord served spoiled food in the schools. Two years ago, the billionaire even announced that he had sent money to the Charité hospital in Berlin to pay for the care of Alexei Navalny so that he “get well and give him his money“. The hospital had obviously refused.
We understand better why Navalny’s networks were responsible, the day before yesterday, for broadcasting this video of Prigojine which establishes more clearly than ever his link with the Wagner militias.