The BBC Russian service has found a connection between the Wagner private military company (PMC) and the businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is also known as “Putin’s Chef”.
Megaline, a company affiliated with Prigozhin, built a chapel in Russia’s Rostov province to commemorate the Russian volunteers who died in Syria. It has also built a number of facilities for the Defense Ministry, including a small military town in the region of the Belgorod province bordering with Ukraine.
The company Exclusive Technology, which owns the site on which the chapel was built, may also be connected to Prigozhin. It uses the same insurer as Megaline, one of its employees used the mailbox of one of Prigozhin’s other businesses, and it is located in St. Petersburg in an office neighboring Prigozhin’s business.
In the past, too, the Wagner PMC has used fictitious companies that are indirectly connected to Prigozhin. For example, the company Kontur in St. Petersburg was found to be purchasing medicine for the PMC. In February 2015, in the midst of the battles for the city of Debaltseve in Ukraine’s Donetsk province, the company bought bandages, syringes, antibiotics and other medical supplies. The company was registered by a notary who also registered a number of other organizations affiliated with Prigozhin. Its website was registered at the same time and by the same registrar as the website of another company linked to Prigozhin.
According to Bloomberg, using his mercenaries, Yevgeny Prigozhin has been providing security services during pre-election campaigns in 10 African countries: the DRC, Sudan, Libya, Madagascar, Angola, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and the CAR.
Prigozhin has officially denied having any connection to the Wagner PMC. However, in 2017 the US placed sanctions both on the Wagner PMC and on Prigozhin’s catering company, Concord.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was dubbed by the media as Putin’s top chef, has operated a restaurant business since 1996. The media now believes he may be involved in the testing of military-grade poisons.