Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian businessman with connections to the Kremlin and the nickname “Putin’s chef,” admitted to interfering in American elections. Monday’s admission comes a day before the U.S. midterm elections.
“We have interfered, are interfering and will continue to interfere. Carefully, precisely, surgically and in our own way,” Prigozhin said in remarks posted on social media. The remarks serve as a confirmation of accusations he had rejected for years.
The 61-year-old catering company owner was accused of using his companies to fund a troll farm called the Internet Research Agency. In July, the State Department offered a reward of up to $10 million for information about Russian interference in U.S. elections, including on Prigozhin and the Internet Research Agency.
Back in 2018, Prigozhin and a dozen other Russian nationals and three Russian companies were charged with operating a covert social media campaign aimed at fomenting discord and dividing American public opinion ahead of the 2016 presidential election. They were indicted as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. The Justice Department moved to dismiss charges against two of the indicted firms in 2020.
Monday’s admission from the Russian businessman came just under two months after the United States Intelligence Review found Russia spent $300 million interfering in the elections in two dozen countries. Russia used that money to fund political parties and candidates of their choice.
Prigozhin’s social media remarks marked his second major admission in recent months. He had previously sought to keep his activities under the radar and now appears increasingly interested in gaining political clout.
In September, Prigozhin publicly stated that he was behind the Wagner Group mercenary force — something he also had previously denied. He also talked openly about its involvement in Russia’s 8-month-old war in Ukraine.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.