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Russian businessman admits US election interference, vows more

Evgeny Prigozhin, an entrepreneur with ties to the Kremlin, admitted Monday that he interfered in US elections and said he would continue to do so.

“Gentlemen, we have interfered, we have interfered, and we will interfere. He boasted in remarks posted on social media.

A statement from his catering company’s press service that nicknamed him “Putin’s Chef” was issued on the eve of the US midterm elections in response to a request for comment.

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.

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It was the second major entrance in recent months by a 61-year-old businessman with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Mr. Prigogine, who has so far tried to keep his own activism low profile, now seems more and more interested in gaining his political clout.

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In September, it also publicly said it was behind the Wagner Group’s mercenary force.The military contractor has also sent troops to places such as Syria and sub-Saharan Africa.

A video recently surfaced showing a Prigogine-like man visiting a Russian penal colony and recruiting prisoners to fight in Ukraine.

In 2018, ahead of the 2016 presidential election won by Republican Donald Trump, Prigozhin and 12 other Russian citizens and three Russian companies aimed to foment discord and divide American public opinion. They were indicted in the U.S. for running a covert social media campaign that said they

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In 2020, the Justice Department moved to dismiss charges against two of the companies indicted, Concord Management and Consulting LLC and Concord Catering, stating that trials against the corporate defendants do not exist in the United States, and even if convictions were not convicted. He said he concluded that there was no prospect of meaningful punishment, if any. Sensitive law enforcement tools and techniques may be exposed if convicted.

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In July, the State Department offered a bounty of up to $10 million for information about Russian interference in US elections. This includes Prigozhin and the St. Petersburg troll farm Internet research agency. Prigozhin has also been sanctioned by the US Treasury Department for election interference.

Prigozhin has previously denied Russian involvement in election interference.

Russian media, prisoners’ rights groups, and relatives of prisoners reported this year that Wagner (and sometimes Prigozhin himself) had made massive efforts to recruit prisoners to fight in Ukraine. Prigogine did not directly confirm it, but said in one statement that “(Wagner’s private military company) and the prisoners, or your children,” would be fighting on the front lines.

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Last week, Wagner opened a business center in St. Petersburg. Prigogine calls it a platform for Russia’s “improvement of its defense capabilities.”

On Sunday, through Concord, he also announced the creation of training centers for militias in the Belgorod and Kursk regions of Russia, which border Ukraine.

“Locals know their territory better than anyone else and can fight saboteurs and reconnaissance groups and deliver the first blow if necessary,” he said.

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Once a hot dog stand owner, Prigozhin opened a swanky restaurant in St. Petersburg that caught the attention of President Putin. Putin took then-French President Jacques Chirac to dinner at Prigogine’s restaurant during his first term in office.

“Vladimir Putin saw how I set up my business out of a kiosk and knew that I wouldn’t mind serving my esteemed guests, because they were my guests. .

Evgeny Prigozhin (left) gestures during a summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Constantine Palace outside St. Petersburg, Russia, on August 9, 2016. .

Photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP file

His business has expanded significantly. In 2010, Putin attended the inauguration of Prigozhin’s factory for producing school meals, which was built with a large loan from the state bank. In Moscow alone, his company, Concord, won millions of dollars in contracts to provide school meals to public schools. Prigogine has also organized catering for Kremlin events for several years and has provided catering and utility services to the Russian Armed Forces.

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When fighting broke out in 2014 between the Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine and the army in Kyiv, Prigozhin said through his spokesman, “Go (there) and defend the Russians. ) to bring the group together.

Although Russian law prohibits the activities of private military contractors, state media have openly reported Wagner’s involvement in Ukraine in recent months.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

Russian businessman admits US election interference, vows more

Source link Russian businessman admits US election interference, vows more

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