The liberal Novaya gazeta, having already aired private revelations about him in its pages on Thursday, has today drawn attention to a video recording the presence of President Putin’s favourite restaurateur, owner of Concord Catering, Evgenii Prigozhin, seated to the left of Defence Minister Shoigu in a meeting with the head of the Libyan military.
Indicted for criminal activity by the United States on 16 February this year for funding cyber warfare run from his so-called ‘troll factory’, the “Lakhta Project” in St Petersburg, Prigozhin’s presence at such high level talks alongside the formal head of the Russian armed forces is a visible and outward manifestation of the duality in Russian foreign, intelligence and defence policies.
Prigozhin’s activities abroad were once, though no more, certainly since his troll factory’s involvement in undermining the validity of the US Presidential elections in 2016 and with the despatch of mercenaries to fight for Assad in Syria, a form of plausible deniability. Since the US Justice Department’s indictment any deniability is implausible. So what we now see on screen is exactly what his position in the Kremlin really is.