Yevgeny Viktorovich Prigozhin (Russian: born June 1, 1961) is a Russian businessman with ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin. Prigozhin was called "Putin’s chef" in an Associated Press article because of Prigozhin's restaurants and catering businesses that hosted dinners which Vladimir Putin attended with foreign dignitaries. Prigozhin controls "a network of companies," including three accused of interference in the 2016 United States elections. Prigozhin, his companies and associates face economic sanctions and criminal charges in the United States.
Internet Research Agency
Main article: Internet Research Agency
Prigozhin has been connected to and is alleged to have financed and directed a network of companies including a company called the Internet Research Agency Ltd., Concord Management and Consulting Company and one other related company. The three companies are accused of internet trolling and attempting to influence the 2016 US Presidential elections and other activity to influence political events outside Russia.
Russian journalist Andrey Soshnikov reported that Alexey Soskovets, who had participated in Russian youth political community, was directly connected to the offices of Internet Research in Olgino. His company, North-Western Service Agency, won 17 or 18 (according to different sources) contracts for organizing celebrations, forums and sport competitions for authorities of Saint Petersburg. The agency was the only participant in half of those bids. In the summer of 2013 the agency won a tender for providing freight services for participants of Seliger camp.
Despite links to Alexei Soskovets, Nadejda Orlova, deputy head of the Committee for Youth Policy in Saint Petersburg, disputed connection between her institution and the trolling offices.
US Treasury Department sanctions
Main article: International sanctions during the Ukrainian crisis
On December 20, 2016, the US Treasury Department designated Prigozhin pursuant to E.O.13661 for sanctions for providing support to senior officials of the Russian Federation. In June 2017 US sanctions were imposed on one of Prigozhin's companies, Concord Management and Consulting, in connection with the war in Eastern Ukraine.
On January 28, 2018 the US Treasury Department also designated Evro Polis Ltd for sanctions. Evro Polis is a Russian company that has contracted with the Government of Syria to protect Syrian oil fields in exchange for a 25 percent share in oil and gas production from the fields. The company was designated for being owned or controlled by Yevgeniy Prigozhin. The sanctions require that any property or interests in property of the designated persons in the possession or control of U.S. persons or within the United States must be blocked. Additionally, transactions by U.S. persons involving these persons (including companies) are generally prohibited.
US criminal charges
Main article: Special Counsel investigation (2017–present)
On February 16, 2018, Prigozhin, the Internet Research Agency, Concord Management, another related company, and other connected Russian individuals were indicted by a U.S. grand jury. He was charged with funding and organizing operations for the purpose of interference with the U.S. political and electoral processes, including the 2016 presidential election, and other crimes including identity theft.