The Russian entrepreneur and troll master Yevgeny Prigozhin was often referred to as “Putin’s chef” or “Putin’s henchman” due to his once close ties with the Russian President. He presumably died in a mysterious plane crash. Prigozin’s journey from a convicted criminal to a billionaire with interests in various sectors, including catering, media, private military companies, and troll factories, is nothing short of remarkable.
A Russian Troll
As a young man in the 1980s, Prigozhin was a petty criminal in St. Petersburg. After many years in prison, with the help of the St. Petersburg mafia, he built up smaller stalls to fancier restaurants, which the then deputy mayor Vladimir Putin also frequented.
His company, Concord Catering, became one of the leading catering firms in Russia, securing lucrative contracts with the Russian military and other state institutions. Beyond catering, Prigozhin diversified his interests into various sectors.
Prigozhin funded and oversaw a network of companies, including the Internet Research Agency (IRA), Concord Management and Consulting Company, and another associated firm. These entities allegedly have engaged in online trolling and efforts to sway the 2016 U.S. presidential election, along with other endeavors to impact political occurrences beyond Russia’s borders.
His association with the Wagner Group, a Russian state-funded private military company (PMC) formed in 2014, further solidified his position as a significant figure in Russian business and political circles. In the Ukraine invasion, he presented himself as a private warlord who publicly criticized the Russian army. His rebellion and march towards the Kremlin on 23 June 2023 set the world on edge for a few hours. He became an enemy of the Russian state and attracted Putin’s enmity. The rebellion was called off the following day, and Prigozhin had his criminal charges dropped after agreeing to relocate his forces to Belarus.
Presumed Death & Serious Mistakes In Life
On 23 August 2023, exactly two months after the rebellion, Prigozhin was presumed dead in a mysterious plane crash along with nine other people. U.S. President Joe Biden has said U.S. officials are trying to determine precisely how Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin’s plane was brought down, leaving no survivors. The US says it’s “likely” he was aboard.
According to a BBC report, a US official said that an explosion on board was a more probable cause and that a bomb might have gone off. However, as of now, there is no concrete evidence to support these claims.
While Mr. Prigozhin’s death would not entirely restore Mr. Putin’s standing as a decisive leader — a destroyed business jet is hardly the most persuasive symbol of strength — it could offer some solace to hard-liners concerned about the president becoming out of touch, hesitant or unable to manage his own circle. For Russia’s elites, the incident serves as a clear warning. Challenging the regime, whatever your achievements, inevitably leads to your downfall.The New York Times: Putin Had Every Reason to Want Prigozhin Gone
In his first public comments on the incident, Russian President Vladimir Putin described Prigozhin as a “talented businessman” who “made serious mistakes in life.”
Yevgeny Prigozhin‘s journey from humble beginnings to becoming one of Russia’s most influential entrepreneurs is a testament to his business acumen and ability to navigate the complex landscape of Russian politics and business. The Wall Street Journal stated that “the very public death of Putin henchman Yevgeny Prigozhin highlights the evolution of Russia into a mafia state held together by violence and incapable of global leadership.“