Daily Management Review

Russian Businessman Prigozhin Admits Meddling In American Elections


Russian Businessman Prigozhin Admits Meddling In American Elections
Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian businessman who Washington accuses of trying to sway American politics, admitted on Monday that he had meddled in American elections and would do so in the future.
Prigozhin stated the following in remarks published on VKontakte, Russia's version of Facebook, by the press office of his Concord catering business: "We have meddled in American elections, we are meddling now, and we will continue to meddle. as precisely, precisely, surgically, and individually as we are capable of doing."
On the eve of the U.S. midterm elections, the close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin made the statement in response to a request for comment from a Russian news site.
"During our pinpoint operations, we will remove both kidneys and the liver at once," Prigozhin said. He did not elaborate on the cryptic comment.
Prigozhin, who is frequently referred to as "Putin's chef" because his catering business holds Kremlin contracts, has been formally charged with funding "troll farms" based in Russia that aim to sway American politics.
The U.S. State Department announced in July that it would pay up to $10 million for information leading to the arrest of Prigozhin for "engagement in U.S. election interference." U.S., British, and European Union sanctions have been imposed against him.
Prior to starting a business in the 1990s, Prigozhin, who had previously served nine years in prison for robbery and other crimes committed during the Soviet era, had long maintained a low public profile. However, he has become more outspoken this year, criticizing the actions of the Russian generals in Ukraine among other things.
After Ukraine's successful counteroffensive in the Kharkiv region in October, Prigozhin demanded that Russia's military leaders be "sent with assault weapons barefoot to the front" and stripped of their medals.
He acknowledged starting the Kremlin-backed Wagner Group mercenary company, which operates in Syria, Africa, and Ukraine, in September. Prior to this, Prigozhin had sued journalists for falsely linking him to Wagner.
Wagner launched a defense technology center in St. Petersburg on Friday, another move by Prigozhin to emphasize his military experience.
Moscow has made no secret of the fact that it wants the US to stop providing military assistance to Ukraine and put pressure on Kiev to reach a peace agreement with Russia that would include territorial concessions.
However, despite the fact that President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party have come under fire from Russian state media for everything from their economic record to their Ukraine policy, foreign policy experts close to the Kremlin do not anticipate that Tuesday's midterm elections will favor Russia.
Even though some Republicans are against maintaining military aid to Ukraine, Moscow believes that the aid will continue to be provided whether or not Biden retains control of Congress.
"The old Congress will sit until January and it will approve quite a serious package (of military aid to Ukraine) before it winds up," Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of the Russia in Global Affairs journal, told the online rbc.ru news portal.
"Then there is likely to be more tricky and prolonged negotiations (over the aid). Perhaps such aid will be a bit less frequent. But essentially the consensus view is that Russia should be weakened as much as possible by supporting Ukraine."
Sam Greene, a professor of Russian politics at King's College in London, commented on attempts by Russian trolls and bots to sway the election. He believed the aim was to try and shape the agenda on Ukraine that Republicans will pursue after the vote.
"(The aim is) to get the (Republican) base clamouring for a drawdown in U.S. support for Ukraine," Greene wrote on Twitter.
But given the party's lack of a unified stance on the Ukraine war, he claimed he thought that was "a tall order."
"Half want to bash Biden for supporting Ukraine, the other half for not supporting Ukraine enough," said Greene.