Putin Pal: We Interfered 'Surgically' in US Elections

Yevgeny Prigozhin boasts about it on social media
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 7, 2022 12:10 PM CST
Updated Nov 12, 2022 12:15 PM CST
'Putin's Chef' Admits to Meddling in US Elections
Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin says he interfered in U.S. elections and says he will continue to do so.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

Kremlin-connected entrepreneur Yevgeny Prigozhin said Monday that he had interfered in US elections and would continue to do so—confirming for the first time the accusations that he has rejected for years, per the AP. “We have interfered, are interfering, and will continue to interfere. Carefully, precisely, surgically, and in our own way,” Prigozhin said in remarks posted on social media. The statement, from the press service of his catering company that earned him the nickname “Putin's chef,” came on the eve of US midterm elections in response to a request for comment.

In 2018, Prigozhin and a dozen other Russian nationals and three Russian companies were charged in the US with operating a covert social media campaign aimed at fomenting discord and dividing American public opinion ahead of the 2016 presidential election. They were indicted as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference. The Justice Department in 2020 moved to dismiss charges against two of the indicted firms, Concord Management and Consulting LLC and Concord Catering, saying they had concluded that a trial against a corporate defendant with no presence in the US and no prospect of meaningful punishment even if convicted would likely expose sensitive law enforcement tools and techniques.

In July, the State Department offered a reward of up to $10 million for information about Russian interference in US elections, including on Prigozhin and the Internet Research Agency, the troll farm in St. Petersburg that his companies were accused of funding. Prigozhin had denied involvement in election interference until now. It was the second major admission in recent months by the 61-year-old businessman who has ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Prigozhin has previously sought to keep his activities under the radar and now appears increasingly interested in gaining political clout.

In September, he publicly stated that he was behind the Wagner Group mercenary force—something he also had previously denied—and talked openly about its involvement in Russia’s 8-month-old war in Ukraine. The military contractor also has sent its forces to places like Syria and sub-Saharan Africa. Video also has emerged recently of a man resembling Prigozhin visiting Russian penal colonies to recruit prisoners to fight in Ukraine. (Read more Vladimir Putin stories.)

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