'Putin's chef' Yevgeny Prigozhin admits interfering in U.S. elections
U.S. offering $10M reward for information linking him to election meddling
Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Monday he had interfered in U.S. elections and would continue doing so in future, the first such admission from a figure who has been formally implicated by Washington in efforts to influence American politics.
In comments posted by the press service of his Concord catering firm on Russia's Facebook equivalent VKontakte, Prigozhin said: "We have interfered (in U.S. elections), we are interfering and we will continue to interfere. Carefully, accurately, surgically and in our own way, as we know how to do."
The remark was posted on the eve of the U.S. midterm elections in response to a request for comment from a Russian news site.
"During our pinpoint operations, we will remove both kidneys and the liver at once," Prigozhin said. He did not elaborate on the cryptic comment.
Prigozhin, who is often referred to as "Putin's chef" because his catering company operates Kremlin contracts, has been formally accused of sponsoring Russia-based "troll farms" that seek to influence U.S. politics.
In July, the U.S. State Department offered a reward of up to $10 million US for information on Prigozhin in connection with "engagement in U.S. election interference." He has been hit by U.S., British and European Union sanctions.
Prigozhin kept a low public profile until recently but has become more outspoken in the course of the Ukraine war, including by criticizing the performance of Russia's generals.
In September, he admitted to founding the Kremlin-aligned Wagner Group mercenary organization, which is active in Syria, Africa and Ukraine. Last Friday, it opened a defence technology centre in St. Petersburg, a further step by Prigozhin to highlight his military credentials.