Putin’s “cook” is in a hurry
Wars tend to bring out from the shadows skilled generals, strong leaders, or courageous resistance fighters. The conflict in Ukraine highlighted an entrepreneur on the Russian side James Bond, would happily play the villain disguised as a butler: Yevgeny Prigogine. Billionaire Wagner has been giving interviews at an almost daily rate for several months, avoiding photos and chasing journalists who are too interested in his mercenary organization.
Listening to him, you’d think he’d single-handedly lead a rare winning offensive in the Donbass, drive the French out of Mali and the Central African Republic, elect Donald Trump, and feed half the Russian barracks. In other words, an entrepreneur specializing in geopolitics would put himself at the service of Russia’s influence abroad by producing false information through his factories, the “patriotic” media and private militias he deployed in Africa and Ukraine.
“He knows how to take advantage of opportunities”
Former Soviet prisoner (see signs) stands out in the world of Russian oligarchs. His fortune was built not on the seizure of Soviet state property at the end of the USSR, but on the casinos, hot dogs and, later, the luxury restaurant market in St. Petersburg, where he grew up. He builds his network there by serving esteemed guests, including Vladimir Poutine, who has habits in the chic New Island.
His relationship with the future president will open up a lucrative market for him, such as restoring the barracks of the Ministry of Defense and organizing Kremlin events. “He has a real entrepreneurial mindset and knows how to overcome opportunities, Colin Gérard, a doctoral student at the French Institute of Geopolitics and an expert on Russia’s information influence strategies, says. Mercenary, influence, construction… All his businesses have one thing in common: financial gain. »
When Vladimir Putin returned to power in 2012, his protégé opened a troll farm in St. Petersburg and became an influential entrepreneur. An army of Internet users fills the Russian Internet with false rumors about opponents, which are then posted abroad. It is the initiation of the information war that will contribute to the weakening of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy against Donald Trump and his actions in the French Central African Republic and then in Mali. At the same time, he created a “patriotic” media that flooded Russia with anti-Western films and articles.
Prigogine takes it upon himself to use violence
Ria Fan, the flagship of these communication chains, directly serves the interests of the Prigojine galaxy. “When Wagner turned his attention to an African country, Ria Fan began producing content and distributing it to dozens of partners. Maxim Audinet, a researcher at the Institute of Strategic Studies of the Military School, observes. This media has used lies and disinformation unfettered and systematically when it comes to discrediting Wagner’s opponents, especially starting in France. »
All shots are allowed at Yevgeny Prigojine. He plays the character of a savage without faith and law, where he likes to show off his mobster tattoos, speaks, speaks prison slang in front of inmates, congratulates himself on the day of his execution by mass shootings. After Wagner’s “traitor” and the next day’s anti-Russian vote, he sends a copy of the bloody mace to European parliamentarians. Not to mention the unsolved murders of journalists investigating his affairs. “He supposesuse of violence continues Maxi Audinet. He allows himself to go to extremes related to his personality. »
Since the war in Ukraine, Yevgeny Prigogine has been firing on all cylinders. Wagner’s men, recruited from prisons, act as a parallel army in Donbass. The oligarch’s media, while criticizing Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Russian generals, conveys its “results”. “He has many enemies in the army” observes Colin Gérard, who does not predict a happy ending : “If he came out of the forest, it was to better protect himself. » The 61-year-old businessman hastily started a “patriotic” political movement in the fall.
EDITO ? War of Influence in Africa: The Prigogine Cocktail, author @jchapuis
Emmanuel Macron announced a counter-offensive in the information war in the Sahel, led by Moscow and largely orchestrated by businessman Yevgeny Prigojine.https://t.co/UsWPIGe3g2pic.twitter.com/iWnjMvTiN7
— The Cross (@LaCroix) November 9, 2022
After the arrest of Mikhail Khodorkovsky in 2003, under Vladimir Putin, an oligarch has never occupied so much space in the public space. But unlike the latter, Yevgeny Prigogine remains loyal to the master of the Kremlin, without whom he could never have made a fortune. . Until it becomes a possible successor? For such a scenario, he had to overcome the obstacles created by his numerous rivals within the oligarchic elite. silovikiThese officers from the security services (FSB, former KGB) that form the backbone of Putin’s regime.
A character who is always interested in justice
nineteen eighty one. was sentenced to twelve years of imprisonment “organized gang robbery” and “Participation in underage prostitution networks”. He is finally released after nine years in prison.
February 2021. The FBI is adding him to their wanted list.
February 2022. The United States is imposing visa restrictions and asset freezes on him, his wife and children following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022.
July 2022. The US State Department is offering a reward of up to $10 million for information about him and his companies involved in interfering in the 2016 US election.