December 7, 2022

Russians try to influence US election with ‘surgical precision’

Yevgeny Prigogine admitted years later that his company was trying to influence US elections.Statue Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP
 

“We are engaged in it, we are still engaged in it and we will continue to do so. We are very focused on surgical precision and in our own way, as only we can,” Prigogine said in a statement distributed by his company, Concorde. “With our precise procedures, we remove both the kidney and the liver at the same time,” he boasted.

Prigozhin, also known as “Putin’s chef” for his former role as a Kremlin caterer, responded to reports that his “troll army” was trying to defeat Democrats in Tuesday’s US congressional elections.

According to Graphica, an American research firm that analyzes social media, Russian Internet trolls have recently been busy spreading negative messages about President Joe Biden and Democrats through right-wing websites. They mainly focused on important states like Georgia, Pennsylvania and Ohio. According to the researchers, these did not have much effect, but according to Graphica, the campaign clearly bore the stamp of Prigozhin’s ‘troll factory’ in St Petersburg. He was also behind a covert cyber campaign to divide America and saddle Donald Trump during the 2016 election campaign.

Turn off the mask

In connection with this, Prigozhin and his so-called cyber research firm were indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller as part of an investigation into Russia’s role in the election. The US Department of Justice later dropped the charges, saying Prigozhin was unlikely to stand trial. In addition, the Department of Justice must disclose information about secret investigative procedures during an investigation, even if the investigation is conducted in absentia.

Prigogine has denied the allegations against him for years. He even enlisted expensive American and British law firms to challenge the charges. But after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he dropped his mask.

Prigozhin also recently admitted to being the boss of the Wagner Group, a mercenary force that has been operating as a shadow army for the Kremlin for years, including in Syria, Libya and several African countries. Prigozhin’s mercenaries, including prisoners from Russian prison camps, are now playing a key role in Russian efforts to seize control of the city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine.

Monster Army

By revealing that his army of trolls were actually behind the fire in the US election, Prigogine seems to want to fuel the fire even more. Many Americans are already skeptical about the outcome of the election.

At the same time, Prigozhin wants to show that his home country is a serious player in the field of cyber warfare. Last week, the Wagner boss opened a brand new business center in St. Petersburg for IT professionals and security startups. He wants to expand his business empire’s operations in that area as well, hoping to get more orders from the Kremlin.