Yevgeny Prigozhin, ‘Putin’s Chef’, Confirms He Founded Wagner Group

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Yevgeny Prigozhin, 'Putin's Chef', Confirms He Founded Wagner Group

Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian
businessman and a close ally of Vladimir Putin, has admitted that he
founded the Wagner Group private military company in 2014, the first public
confirmation of a link he has previously denied.

Prigozhin, known as
“Putin’s chef” because his catering business hosted dinners attended by
the Russian president, said he founded Wagner to support Russian-backed
separatists in eastern Ukraine.

“I cleaned the old weapons
myself, sorted out the bulletproof vests myself and found specialists who could
help me with this. From that moment, on 1 May 2014, a group of patriots was
born, which later came to be called the Wagner Battalion,” Prigozhin said.

“I am proud that I was able to
defend their right to protect the interests of their country,” he added in the
statement, which was posted by his catering company, Concord.

Wagner has been accused of
committing human rights abuses in Ukraine, Syria, Libya, Central African
Republic, Sudan and Mozambique. The group’s alleged co-founder, Dmitry Utkin,
has been linked to the far right and is believed to have named the group after
Hitler’s favourite composer. The US and EU have imposed sanctions on Prigozhin
and Utkin for their role in Wagner.

Prigozhin added that Wagner
soldiers were “heroes” who fought in Ukraine, Syria and other Arab,
African and Latin American countries.

The businessman’s admission is
remarkable given that he has sued several Russian and western outlets for
reporting his links to Wagner.

 

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