29.09.2022

Interpol Drops Extradition Notice for ‘Putin’s Chef’ Prigozhin

Interpol has removed catering magnate Yevgeny Prigozhin from its international alert list after U.S. prosecutors dropped a criminal case into election meddling against his company.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed in March the case against Concord Management and Consulting LLC, less than a month before the company was due to face a criminal trial in the case. Its executive Yevgeny Prigozhin, 12 individuals and two other entities were charged in 2018 with conspiracy to defraud the United States for their alleged role in funding a propaganda operation to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

On Monday, Concord posted English- and Russian-language letters on social media signed by Interpol’s legal affairs office announcing the end of efforts to extradite Prigozhin, 59. Concord said it received the letters from Interpol on Aug. 28, after submitting a request following the U.S. court decision.

“The General Secretariat of the International Criminal Police Organization – Interpol hereby certifies that Mr. Prigozhin Yevgeniy Viktorovich … is not subject to an Interpol Notice or diffusion,” the letters said.

Concord announced later that Prigozhin, with his travel bans lifted, plans business trips to the Baltics and Germany, as well as meetings in Turkey in the near future.

“Given that his plane is under sanctions, he plans to take commercial flights,” the company said.

Prigozhin has been nicknamed “Putin’s chef” for his close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his start in the catering business.

Prigozhin is under U.S. sanctions over his ties to the Internet Research Agency, the Kremlin-backed “troll farm” accused of interfering in the 2016 election. He is also linked to the Wagner Group of private mercenaries which has reportedly been deployed to conflicts in Syria, Libya, Sudan and several sub-Saharan African countries.

Russian Baliffs Seize $460,000 From Navalny Ally

Bailiffs on Monday seized $460,000 from bank accounts belonging to Russian opposition activist Lyubov Sobol, she said, nearly a year after a court-ordered damages from her and opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Sobol is a lawyer for the Anti-Corruption Foundation set up by Navalny, who is in a coma with suspected poisoning in hospital in Germany.

She tweeted that the full sum had been debited from her account, leaving her deep in the red.

“The bailiffs have seized an enforced gift from all my accounts,” she wrote, adding: “How is your Monday morning going?”

The case concerned an investigation by the Anti-Corruption Foundation into a company that provides school meals, alleging that it was monopolizing the market and serving poor quality food that made children ill.

The Moskovsky Shkolnik (Moscow Schoolboy) company has been linked in media reports to businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, nicknamed “Putin’s chef” because his company Konkord has done catering for the Kremlin.

The court in October last year ordered Navalny, Sobol and the Anti-Corruption Foundation to jointly pay almost 88 million rubles ($1.2 million) to Moskovsky Shkolnik.

Prigozhin said last week that he would personally claim the damages and wanted to “strip this group of unscrupulous people of everything down to their clothes and shoes.”

Media reports have said Prigozhin funds Wagner, a private army of Russian mercenaries, which he denies.

While Prigozhin denies owning Moskovsky Shkolnik, he said last week that he transferred the 88 million rubles to the company and argued that Navalny and Sobol owed him personally.

Navalny formally closed the Anti-Corruption Foundation in July in a move to avoid paying its share of the court-ordered penalty.

Sobol, in addition to representing Navalny legally, produces his live YouTube channel.

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