Prigozhin Companies Under Pressure: The Fallout from the Wagner Uprising

news 04-Jul-2023 Europe

Prigozhin's Companies Under Pressure

The failure of the Wagner uprising also has consequences for the companies owned by its boss, Prigozhin. The first firms have already been closed, the company headquarters have been searched, and corruption proceedings may follow. On Friday at 13:12, the latest news appeared on RIA FAN. It was about difficulties in delivering F-35 fighter jets in the US. RIA FAN stands for Russian Federal News Agency, which strictly promotes Putin, Prigozhin, and opposes opposition figures like Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and critical journalists.

Shortly after the last agency report, its chief, Yevgeny Subarev, announced, "We are closing and leaving the country's information space - the entire Patriot media group is leaving with us.

" Extensive Corporate Network

The end did not come voluntarily. The Russian media regulatory authority, Roskomnadzor, blocked access to all subsidiaries of the media holding Patriot, controlled by Yevgeny Prigozhin, without further explanation.

Whether the media holding, established in 2019, will be completely dissolved or parts will be taken over by another oligarch is currently unclear. However, it is clear that after Prigozhin's armed uprising with the help of his mercenary group Wagner, other companies within his vast corporate network spanning multiple industries are now under Kremlin's scrutiny.

Troll Factory Shut Down

The "Internet Research Agency" (IRA) is also said to be no more. Prigozhin's troll factory, notorious for disinformation and Kremlin-aligned manipulation, is known to have influenced the 2016 US presidential election in favor of eventual winner Donald Trump.

In February, Prigozhin publicly admitted to founding the troll factory. However, its operations were suspended at least temporarily following the Wagner group's uprising.

Billions in State Payments

For a long time, it was officially denied that the Russian state had anything to do with politically sensitive deployments of the private military company Wagner in the Middle East or Africa. On the other hand, the use of Wagner mercenaries in the war against Ukraine was no secret, especially the extremely brutal occupation of the Ukrainian city of Bachmut.

However, the close financial ties were only acknowledged by Russian President Vladimir Putin after the failed uprising: "The 'livelihood' of the entire Wagner group was fully taken over by the state. We fully financed the group from the Ministry of Defense and the state budget."

Although private military companies are not allowed in Russia, according to Putin, over 930 million euros were transferred to the Wagner group from May 2022 to May 2023, primarily for salaries. Payments of this magnitude are likely to be a thing of the past.

Putin's Threat

During the armed revolt and the march towards Moscow, Prigozhin menacingly mentioned around 25,000 active Wagner fighters. Will they actually go in larger numbers to Belarus? Is Prigozhin also there? Although Putin granted him immunity, he no longer mentions the name of his longtime confidant - the current traitor.

He did not mention it when he spoke about Concord last week, another highly lucrative company owned by Prigozhin: "The owner of Concord has earned another 80 billion rubles by supplying food to the army and providing other services."

Putin continued, "I hope no one has stolen anything in the process. Or let's say, not stolen much. But of course, we will definitely clarify that." It sounded like a threat that these 830 million euros could lead to investigations against the 62-year-old Prigozhin.

State Caterer Concord

Prigozhin began his entrepreneurial career in the 1990s in St. Petersburg as a restaurant owner, where he met and was supported by the future President Putin. He went on to organize state banquets and open upscale restaurants. Eventually, he built a huge catering company called Concord, which supplied food to schools and, most notably, the Russian army.

Dmitry Kiselyov, a television host and head of the state television holding, speculated that the planned expiration of lucrative contracts by the Ministry of Defense might have been a reason for Prigozhin to dare to stage an uprising against the ministry's leadership.

However, when Kiselyov analyzed the Concord contracts on state television, he arrived at a completely different figure than Putin: "Prigozhin's holding company Concord provided services worth 845 billion rubles." That would be equivalent to nine billion euros. What exactly were these services for? President's spokesman Dmitry Peskov was asked this question on Monday, but he had no answer.

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