According to a new report by Current Time, companies with ties to the catering magnate Evgeny Prigozhin have won a whopping 5,393 state procurement contracts worth more than 209.2 billion rubles ($3.2 billion) since 2011. The new investigative study by Mikhail Maglov, Timur Olevsky, and Dmitry Treshchanin states that Prigozhin’s empire uses a network of different firms, fielding different bids for the same contracts to create the illusion of competition.
Current Time warns that it wasn’t able to find all of Prigozhin’s likely government contracts, pointing out that an order by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in 2017 allowed Defense Ministry subsidiaries to start classifying most procurement purchases.
The website The Bell previously reported that Prigozhin’s businesses won 149.8 billion rubles in state procurement deals between 2014 and 2019. Prigozhin has said this figure is inaccurate.
Known commonly as “Putin’s chef” (because of close business ties with the Kremlin), Evgeny Prigozhin is a St.-Petersburg-based catering mogul whose enterprises have lucrative contracts with Russia’s army, Moscow’s school system, and more. Journalists have also linked him to the so-called “troll factory” (blamed for meddling in American politics and sanctioned by the U.S. government) and the “Wagner” private military company, whose combatants have allegedly operated in Ukraine, Syria, and several African countries (despite Russia’s constitutional ban on mercenary activity).