Who Is Yevgeny Prigozhin? Russian Mercenary Chief Accused Of Mutiny

Who Is Yevgeny Prigozhin? Russian Mercenary Chief Accused Of Mutiny

Prigozhin said on Saturday that his men had crossed the border from Ukraine into Russia and were ready to 'go all the way' against the Russian military.

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Saturday, June 24, 2023, 12:11 PM IST
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Who Is Yevgeny Prigozhin? Russian Mercenary Chief Accused Of Mutiny |

Yevgeny Prigozhin, often referred to as 'Putin's chef,' is a Russian oligarch, the head of the private military contractor Wagner Group, and a close confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin. His recent challenge to the Russian military leadership has raised eyebrows and highlighted growing discord within the country.

Prigozhin said on Saturday that his men had crossed the border from Ukraine into Russia and were ready to 'go all the way' against the Russian military. As a long-running standoff between Prigozhin and the military top brass appeared to come to a head, Russia's FSB security service opened a criminal case against him, TASS news agency said. It called on the Wagner private military company forces to ignore his orders and arrest him.

Prigozhin's Background and Rise to Power

Born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) in 1961, Yevgeny Prigozhin faced a challenging upbringing, spending time in a children's home and later a juvenile detention center. After his release, he worked as a cook and eventually opened his own restaurant in St. Petersburg.

In the early 2000s, Prigozhin secured government contracts to provide food services to schools and government workers, establishing lucrative connections and becoming a trusted associate of then-St. Petersburg Mayor Vladimir Putin.

Involvement in Mercenary Activities and Election Interference

In 2014, Prigozhin is believed to have founded the Wagner Group, a Russian state-backed mercenary company. The Wagner Group has been involved in various conflicts, including those in Syria, Libya, and Ukraine. Known for their brutality, Prigozhin's forces have been accused of committing war crimes. The Russian prosecutor general has initiated an investigation into Prigozhin for armed rebellion, the outcome of which remains uncertain.

Additionally, Prigozhin is believed to be the mastermind behind the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a troll farm accused of meddling in the 2016 US presidential election. The IRA used social media platforms to disseminate pro-Trump propaganda and sow discord among American voters. These activities have led to sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union, and the US Department of Justice is currently investigating Prigozhin for possible criminal charges.

Controversies and Influence

Despite his criminal past, Yevgeny Prigozhin has amassed significant power and influence. Through his close ties to Putin and control over a vast network of businesses, he has become a prominent figure in Russian society. His ownership of restaurants and catering companies, including Concord Catering, has secured billions of dollars in government contracts.

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