In 2014, hackers from the online group “Anonymous International” further corroborated that Prigozhin’s company Concord was involved in financing the Internet Research Agency.
It would seem that Prigozhin and his people provided the Russian authorities with other propaganda-related services, as well. In November 2013, three months before the overthrow of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, a news agency called “Kharkov” was founded in Ukraine, and it opened a branch office in Crimea. The agency advocated a pro-Russian position in its news reports, using the term “Novorossiya” well before violence began in eastern Ukraine. (Novorossiya is a historical term of the Russian Empire denoting a region north of the Black Sea that suddenly re-entered the political lexicon when Moscow-backed separatists took up arms against Kiev in 2014.) According to the newspaper Novaya Gazeta, Evgeny Prigozhin financed Kharkov. (Journalists later discovered that Prigozhin’s mobile phone number—listed as “Evgeny Viktorovich”—was among the contacts of Konstantin Kobzar, one of Viktor Yanukovich’s assistants.)
The next day, on May 31, Prigozhin filed 15 different lawsuits against the Internet search engine Yandex, seeking to utilize Russia’s new law on “the right to be forgotten,” which obliges search engines to respond to citizens’ requests to remove results linking to “illegal, inaccurate, or irrelevant information” about that individual. In particular, Prigozhin has demanded that Yandex delete its links to Novaya Gazeta’s report about the “troll factory,” Fontanka’s report about Prigozhin’s “business empire” in military communities (specifically, his state contracts with the Defense Ministry), and an article about military communities published on the Ukrainian news website Apostrof, with the headline “On Putin’s Thieving Chef.”
Yandex refused to censor its search results, arguing that Prigozhin offered no reasons, and neither did he give any proof that the published information is inaccurate. Technically speaking, it’s still unclear why Prigozhin wants these hyperlinks removed from his search results on Yandex. Prigozhin has refused to speak to journalists for many years now.
Maybe Yandex isn’t as corrupt as I thought…
The company is allegedly financed by the Concord holding company (food production, restaurants, real estate, development) headed by the friend and cook of the Russian president Yevgeny Prigozhin. Since 2000, the holding company has been organizing banquets in the Kremlin, has also been cooperating with JSC Voentorg and the Ministry of Defense.”
And Baskaev fingered Putin pal Yevgeny Prigozhin as his former “boss,” or “our guy who gives us money.”
The U.S. Treasury Department has added seven Russians and dozens of companies to its sanctions list because of Moscow’s activities in Crimea and Ukraine. The updated list, released Tuesday, includes Yevgeny Prigozhin, a St. Petersburg businessman known as President Vladimir Putin’s chef. The addition of new names provoked an angry response from the Kremlin, with Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov vowing to get revenge. “We will be expanding our lists, we will see how we can respond asymmetrically,” Ryabkov told Russia’s TASS news agency. Prigozhin, known for his Kremlin connections, was added to the list because he provided financial and technological support to top Russian defense officials, the Treasury statement said. He has also been linked to a murky private security contractor that has sent mercenaries to Ukraine and Syria, known as ChVK Vagner.
Russian media point out that according to documents, published by hackers from Anonymous International, Concord is directly involved with trolling administration through the agency. Researchers cite e-mail correspondence, in which Concord gives instructions to trolls and receives reports on accomplished work.