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Days after ‘Putin’s chef’ buys civil-suit debt owed by Navalny ally, nearly $500,000 is overdrafted from her bank accounts

Source: Meduza

When Anti-Corruption Foundation lawyer Lyubov Sobol woke up this morning, she discovered that two of her bank accounts are now overdrafted by more than 34 million rubles ($460,700). The debt, it turns out, is the work of Russian court marshalls acting on behalf of catering magnate Evgeny Prigozhin and several organizations controlled by the Moscow Mayor’s Office. Until Sobol can pay off the negative total on her bank statement, her accounts are inoperable. 

“Court marshals seized a gift for Prigozhin and Sobyanin from all my accounts. 34 million rubles. And how’s your Monday morning going?”
Lyubov Sobol

The sum of money represents the total amount awarded to plaintiffs in several lawsuits against Sobol, who told that she’s already paid some of these penalties (specifically, she says she’s already settled her debt to the Moscow Prosecutor’s Office and the “Avtomobilnye Dorogi” public utility), meaning that she no longer owes the full 34 million rubles.

In July 2020, a Moscow court ordered Lyubov Sobol, Alexey Navalny, and the Anti-Corruption Foundation each to pay 29 million rubles ($393,000) to the company “Moskovsky Shkolnik” for spreading allegedly defamatory information about the business. After losing several appeals, Navalny announced that he would dissolve his foundation and reopen it under a new name.

Sobol has lost multiple lawsuits against various organizations in Moscow that held her and other oppositionists responsible for supposed profit losses during last summer’s protests against election officials’ refusal to register dozens of independent candidates in the City Duma races. 

On August 26, Evgeny Prigozhin acquired the rights to the 88-million-ruble ($1.2-million) debt awarded to the “Moskovsky Shkolnik” food production facility in a civil suit last October against Navalny, Sobol, and the Anti-Corruption Foundation. According to a statement by the Prigozhin-affiliated “Concord” catering company, Prigozhin bought the debt with the intention of “reducing this group of dishonest people to pennilessness and shoelessness.”

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