Russian Oligarch and Wagner Group Founder Yevgeny Prigozhin Admits Interference In US Elections

On the eve of the United States midterm elections, Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Kremlin-linked oligarch and founder of a private mercenary force, appeared to admit that Russia interfered in US elections.

“I will answer you very subtly, and delicately and I apologize, I will allow a certain ambiguity. Gentlemen, we interfered, we interfere and we will interfere,” Prigozhin said on VKontakte, a Russian social media platform equivalent to Facebook.

“Carefully, precisely, surgically and in our own way, as we know how. During our pinpoint operations, we will remove both kidneys and the liver at once,” he added but did not elaborate.

His statement, which CNN reports seem to have been made sarcastically, appears to be the first time that anyone from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s circle has admitted to a high-level campaign to interfere in US elections. The US State Department in July offered a reward of up to $10 million for information on his links to US election interference.

But US officials did not seem surprised by the admission, especially given the timing.

Ned Price, spokesperson for the State Department said at a briefing that Prigozhin’s comments “didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know.”

“His full confession, if anything, appears to be just a manifestation of the impunity that crooks and cronies enjoy under President Putin and the Kremlin,” Price added.

“We also know that part of Russia’s efforts includes promoting narratives aimed at undermining democracy and sowing division and discord. It’s not surprising that Russia would be highlighting their attempted efforts and fabricating a story about their successes on the eve of an election,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

Prigozhin, also known as ‘Putin’s chef,’ is reportedly one of the Russian leader’s most trusted confidants. He currently holds no public office but supports the Kremlin through commercial ventures. Concord, his catering company, has executed many lucrative catering contracts from the Kremlin, and then in September, after years of denying involvement and secrecy, Prigozhin admitted to founding Wagner Group, a Kremlin-aligned private mercenary group accused of war crimes in Syria, Africa, and Ukraine

He was also linked to a troll farm in 2018, the Internet Research Agency, which the US Justice Department accused of manipulating US voters in the 2016 election campaign through Facebook and Twitter.

The recent pronouncements seem out of character for the oligarch. But observers see his increased public presence as a result of shifting power balances created by losses in Ukraine, with US and EU officials saying that the oligarch is using the failures in the war in Ukraine to bolster his influence in the Kremlin. 

Following Ukraine’s successful counteroffensive in the Kharkiv region last month, the oligarch issued a statement criticizing Russia’s military commanders. He said they should be stripped of their medals and “sent with assault weapons barefoot to the front.”

Information for this briefing was found via Reuters, CNN, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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