Yevgeny Prigojin, who was a simple sandwich seller, suddenly entered Putin’s closest circle and was once described as ‘Putin’s chief’, today has started an uprising against the Russian Army. So who is Russian businessman and oligarch Yevgeny Prigojin? What is known about the Wagner group he founded, here are the remarkable details…
The Wagner mercenary group, which played the leading role in today’s crisis in Russia, and the allegations that the founder of the group, Yevgeny Prigojin, tried to overthrow Russian President Putin have been on the world agenda for months.
And as many military analysts and Ukrainian figures predicted, the ties between the Wagner mercenary group, which played an active role in the Ukrainian war, and the Kremlin administration broke last night.
So who is Yevgeny Prigojin, who was once known to be close to Putin and described as ‘Putin’s chief’ in the Western media?
DESCRIBED AS “PUTIN’S PRIVATE ARMY”
The Wagner Group, also known as PMC Wagner, is a Russian paramilitary organization. The group first made a name for itself in the Crimean crisis in 2014 and continued its activities in the conflict in Libya in 2018.
The group was known as ‘Putin’s private army’ and was on the front lines of the Ukrainian war that started on February 24 last year, but things have changed recently due to Prigojin’s remarks targeting the Russian Army.
Wagner, which initially had only 1,000 employees, increased this number to 5,000 in August 2017 and 6,000 in December 2017. Today, the group is thought to have around 25,000 soldiers.
WHO IS YEVGEN PRIGOGOJIN? SANDWICH VENDOR TURNED PUTIN’S CHEF
Born in 1961 in Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, Yevgeny Prigojin’s mother worked in a hospital and his father died when Prigojin was a teenager.
After leaving school, Prigojin became involved with a group of criminals and was convicted of theft in 1979, when he was just 18 years old. His 2.5-year prison sentence was suspended.
Two years later, Prigojin was sentenced to 13 years in prison, this time for theft and robbery. He spent 9 years behind bars.
After his release from prison, the Wagner chef started selling hot dogs and his business grew in a short time. In just a few years he became the owner of luxury restaurants and established close ties with Russia’s rich and elite.
Russian President Putin started to host his foreign guests, especially those from abroad, in Prigojin’s luxury restaurants.
The relationship between the two soon flourished. Soon Prigojin signed contracts with the Russian government and began serving the Kremlin with his catering company.
ALLEGEDLY INVOLVED IN MANY CONFLICTS
Prigojin, who earned the title of ‘Putin’s chef’ during this period, positioned himself in a very different field than the food industry with Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
The Wagner group, which Prigojin allegedly founded inspired by Nazi Germany, is thought to have played an active role in the conflicts in Syria and Mali, and even intervened in the US elections.