Yevgeny Prigozhin is a Russian oligarch, mercenary leader, and former close confidant of Russian president Vladimir Putin.
He is sometimes called “Putin’s chef” because he owns restaurants and catering companies that provide services for the Kremlin.
Prigozhin was born on June 1, 1961, in Leningrad, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union.
He attended the 62 Sports Boarding School in Leningrad, a prominent institution that regularly produced Olympic athletes.
Prigozhin was a petty criminal as a young man and had been breaking numerous laws of the state and morality.
He served a decadelong prison sentence starting in his teenage years before starting a hot-dog stand.
Putin helped Prigozhin open a school-lunch factory on generous state-funded loans.
Prigozhin also owned at least part of Concord Management and Consulting, the firm that Justice Department officials suspected of bankrolling online, pro-Trump trolling.
Prigozhin is the founder of the private military company Wagner Group, which has been involved in conflicts in Ukraine, Syria and and some countries in Africa.
He is accused of electoral interference and is wanted by the FBI.
Prigozhin is also known for his violent and out-of-control behavior.
He has been accused of threatening and attacking journalists who criticize him.
Prigozhin’s relationship with Putin is complex, and some believe that he could usurp Putin.
However, Putin has accused Prigozhin of treason for organizing what Kremlin officials have described as an “armed rebellion” inside Russia.
Is Yevgeny Prigozhin dead or alive?
According to BBC, Prigozhin is presumed dead after a private plane which belonged to the 62-year-old, was shot down by air defences.
The Wagner boss was on the passenger list of the jet which crashed killing all on board, Russia’s civil aviation authority has said.
The crash comes on the same day that senior Russian general Sergei Surovikin was reportedly sacked as air force chief.
Gen Surovikin was known to have good relations with Prigozhin and had not been seen in public since the mutiny.
Yevgeny Prigozhin failed mutiny
In June 2023, Prigozhin attempted a mutiny against the Russian military leadership, which ultimately failed.
His goal was to prevent the destruction of the Wagner private military company, which was supposed to cease to exist on July 1 due to “intrigues and ill-considered decisions”.
Prigozhin claimed that his troops did not need to fire a single shot when they took control of the headquarters in Rostov-on-Don.
However, his hubris-fueled insurrection failed through a combination of hot-headed ambition and his inability to read Putin’s inner circle, of which he was a member, properly.
Prigozhin’s troops seized Russian military facilities in Rostov-on-Don and Voronezh, south of Moscow, over the weekend, but he ultimately packed up his tanks and pulled out of the Russian military headquarters in Rostov-on-Don.
Prigozhin’s mutiny was called off to avoid bloodshed, and he agreed to withdraw his private army to camps in Belarus.
The Wagner boss’ failed mutiny revealed weakness in Putin’s leadership, according to European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.
Prigozhin had been accused of making calls for a military coup, and Russian authorities launched a criminal probe against him.
Yevgeny Prigozhin house raid
On July 6, 2023, Russian state media showed video footage of a raid on the home of Prigozhin.
The raid was conducted by Russian security forces, who reportedly seized a number of items from the property, including wigs, guns and a giant sledgehammer.
Prigozhin’s whereabouts were unknown at the time, and Russia refused to comment on his location.
The raid on Prigozhin’s home came shortly after a short-lived mutiny by the Wagner group against Moscow’s military leadership.
In an 11-minute audio statement released on the Telegram messaging app, he defended his actions, saying that he had acted “to prevent the destruction of the Wagner private military company”.
Prigozhin did not disclose his current location or future plans.
The reasons for the raid on Prigozhin’s home are not entirely clear, but it is believed to be related to the mutiny by the Wagner group.
Some have speculated that the raid was intended to send a message to other private military contractors operating in Russia.
Others suggested that it may have been an attempt to seize evidence related to the mutiny.