Yevgeny Prigozhin, an entrepreneur known as “Putin’s chef” because of his catering contracts with the Kremlin, allegedly admitted on Monday that he had interfered in U.S. elections and said he would continue to do so — for the first time confirming the accusations he has been rejecting for years.
“We have interfered, are interfering and will continue to interfere. Carefully, precisely, surgically and in our own way,” Prigozhin said in remarks posted by his spokespeople on social media.
Prigozhin, 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 U.S. presidential election.
They were indicted in 2018 as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference.
The Justice Department in 2020 moved to dismiss charges against two of the indicted firms, Concord Management and Consulting LLC and Concord Catering, saying they had concluded that a trial against a corporate defendant with no presence in the United States and no prospect of meaningful punishment even if convicted would likely expose sensitive law enforcement tools and techniques.
“Although the title may suggest that Russia has no interest in interfering in US election on Tuesday, the actual quote — using Russia’s traditional trade craft of intentional ambiguity — implies that Russia is targeting the midterms. US intelligence community has issued multiple assessments that Russia has deployed influence operations targeting several US elections, with the last one being in 2020. Russia’s traditional MO is not change votes or help a specific political party or candidate. It is to undermine US voters confidence in the election process and to stir trouble,” Rebekah Koffler, author of , “Putin’s Playbook: Russia’s Secret Plan to Defeat America,” said.
Prigozhin had denied involvement in election interference until now.
He also previously denied ties to the Wagner mercenary force, but in September, admitted to founding and financing it in 2014 and started speaking openly about its involvement in the war in Ukraine.
“He allegedly oversaw and approved their political and electoral interference operations in the United States which included the purchase of American computer server space, the creation of hundreds of fictitious online personas, and the use of stolen identities of persons from the United States,” the FBI said in a wanted poster back in March.
Fox News’ Louis Casiano and the Associated Press contributed to this report.