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who is Yevgeny Prigozhin? Putin’s “chef and the founder of Russian mercenary organization Wagner?

Yevgeny Prigozhin who is believed to play an important function in the presidency of President Vladimir Putin’s Russia has stepped forward to release a unique personal statement claiming that he’s behind the highly controversial Wagner PMC (private army company) the mercenary company.

Moscow: From accepting a large Kremlin catering deal to recruiting convicts from prison yards and bringing them into fights in Ukraine and a shady businessman Yevgeny”Prigozhin” appears to have an exclusive role to play in the administration of President Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

The 61-year-old Saint Petersburg native on Monday made an unheard-of personal statement, confirming what many believed that he was behind the controversy Wagner PMC (private military company) organization of mercenaries.

However, this is not the only issue concerning Prigozhin who is banned by both the European Union and Washington, being accused of interference in elections with America. The United States has issued threats against opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Prigozhin was for years annoyed by dismissed claims linking him to Wagner whose fighters have fought in the eastern part of Ukraine during 2014 and in Africa, Syria, and currently during Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.

On Monday, he announced the foundation of Wagner on the 14th of July in 2014. and said it was a “group of patriots” was born” who fought throughout Africa, Syria, and even Latin America to become “pillars of our nation”.

‘Friendly team’

This month, a viral video was released of a man with a bald face who bears an eerie resemblance to Prigozhin in a prison courtyard in which prisoners were offered contracts who are fighting Ukraine with a grueling set of terms.

“If you’re serving for six months, you can go home and are completely free. If you’d like to stay (with Wagner) you can. There is no way to return to prison.

“If you visit Ukraine and decide that it’s not the place for us, we’ll consider this as denial and shoot you. Do you have any questions?” said the man.

“The first sin is denial. There is no one who gives for dead,” he said, saying that recruits should carry weapons in the event they are seized. “If you pass away and are buried, your body will be returned to the location you indicated on your form.”

It’s not possible to confirm if the person who appears in the clip is Prigozhin but a statement made in his name by his company holding him Concord did not dispute the fact that it was him.

The article quoted him as saying “of course that if you were in prison I’d like to join this friendly group to be able to repay my debt to the Motherland and also pay it back in interest.”

He said “those who don’t would like PMCs (private military corporations) in the fight… Then you should send your children to battle.”

‘Putin’s chef’

Prigozhin was born into a modest background to join the circle of Putin who is from the former capital of the imperial empire located on the Baltic Sea.

He was imprisoned for nine years in prison during the latter years of the USSR after being found guilty of theft and fraud, coming out in the year 1990 in the midst of his country in the process of collapse. The Soviet Union was collapsing.

In the chaotic 1990s, he launched an eminently successful business of making hot dogs.

After that, he stumbled into the restaurant industry and started an elegant restaurant located in Saint Petersburg whose customers included Putin, and then he made the switch from the Soviet KGB to local political life.

The Concord catering company he created was a time when he was a part of the Kremlin and earned Prigozhin the moniker of “Putin’s Chef”.

The wide array of his alleged and acknowledged interest has made this name a bit of an oversimplified name.

‘Troll factory

Prigozhin is averse to the spotlight and there are few images of him who seldom appears in public. If he’s captured on camera, he’s shaving his head, a striking gaze, and often in the darkest of suits.

One of the most famous images depicts him in his home in the Kremlin in 2011, leaning over a sitting Putin while he serves him a meal as his Russian leader looks at him with an approval eye.

The reports published in Russian media have claimed that he is a billionaire, with a huge fortune derived from government contracts, however, the exact amount of his fortune is not known.

He was banned by Washington who claimed that he played part in meddling in the presidential election in 2016 and in particular, via his online “troll factories”.

Prigozhin has denied involvement and in March, he requested 50 billion dollars in damages from the United States.

‘Affliction with Navalny

He has until now denied any links to Wagner that has been accused of abusing its power and interference not only in Ukraine but as well in Syria, Libya, and countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

In July three journalists investigating Wagner’s activities within Central Africa for the Central African Republic for an investigative news outlet were killed during an ambush.

Western nations have claimed that Wagner of helping the military-backed junta of Mali as part of a plan that led to France’s decision to stop the almost ten-year-long military campaign in the country.

Prigozhin has been actively following the poisoning that killed Navalny who became sick during a flight to Siberia and was transferred to Germany at the time of 2020.

They haven’t been able to conceal their rivalry and Navalny’s anti-corruption organization accused a company that worked together with Concord that it served food at schools that could be harmful to children’s health.

Prigozhin was able to sue Navalny for libel, and a judge ordered that the group representing the campaigner be compensated more than $1m in damage.

Without a doubt, Prigozhin said, “I will strip the group of untrustworthy people of their shoes and clothes.”

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