Here’s a pet peeve of mine: people who act like sneezing is a health problem. I sneeze about a hundred times a day, and I want it celebrated. I want to hear “Way to go, Wes,” or “Good one!” or “Wow, that was one of your best ever!” None of this Gesundheit nonsense.
On the other hand, if someone says “Prigozhin,” maybe a Gesundheit is in order.
Prigozhin is a wild and crazy guy. He started out his adult life as a thief. Caught, he served prison time. Then, after he got out, he joined a gang, committed more crimes and got more prison time. Nine years in all. Then, after being released from that, he worked at a hot dog stand with his mother. I repeat: a hot dog stand. A wildly successful, money-making hot dog stand, in partnership with his mother. OK? Then he went into the grocery store business and then helped set up casinos.
Then he went into the restaurant business. He started a restaurant in St. Petersburg, where Putin is from. By 2001, he was serving food to Putin. He started an independent restaurant business and then began winning government contracts. How did he win government contracts? Could it be that he had a friend in government with a lot of pull? Who could that friend be? Do you wonder?
A restaurant associated with Prigozhin supplying food to Moscow schools set off a dysentery outbreak in the aforementioned schools. Prigozhin was named the 2022 Corrupt Person of the Year by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, says Wikipedia. At this point, reading that, I’m thinking he’s just padding his resume, and he probably wrote the Wikipedia article himself.
That year was actually the same time he claimed credit for founding the Wagner mercenary group (he had denied it for years). He said he founded it back in 2014.What an amazing accomplishment for a former gang member and wildly successful hot dog vendor.
OK, so where were we? He said in 2022 he was the founder of the Wagner Group, which was after the Wagner Group became involved in the Ukraine war. In effect, he was claiming control of the Wagner Group, which had previously been assumed to have been founded by Dmitry Utkin, a Nazi fan, who said he named the mercenary group after Richard Wagner. Utkin is also a buddy of Putin.
So now we have two buddies of Putin claiming to have founded the Wagner Group, but Prigozhin’s claim is strengthened by his ability to assume control of the mercenary organization and march toward Moscow in what we were told was a rebellion against the Russian military, who’d done the Wagner Group wrong. Then about a hundred miles before reaching Moscow, Prigozhin halts the advance and accepts an offer of sanctuary in Belarus. Where’s Dmitry Utkin in all this? Was he Putin’s puppet all along? Was he Prigozhin’s puppet? Or both?
Was the whole mutiny just a trick to take the Wagner Group from Utkin and neutralize it? Was Putin behind the whole thing, using Prigozhin to dissolve Utkin’s power?
There’s more to all this. Both Prigozhin and Utkin have been involved in something called the Concord Management and Consulting firm — Prigozhin as founder and Utkin as CEO. Prigozhin’s mother, with whom Prigozhin went into the hot dog selling business, took ownership of the company as of 2011.
Concord Management and Consulting, besides owning restaurants and a catering company, has also been implicated in the Russian Internet Research Agency, which backs Russian trolling on the internet and was involved in Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. It’s also known as Prigozhin’s troll factory. He has claimed he founded the Internet Research Agency in 2013, before founding the Wagner Group. The guy really gets around, doesn’t he? Like I was saying above, gosh, where does he get all the funding to do all this stuff? And when does he ever get the time to sleep?
Since everything I know about Prigozhin comes from the internet, I know nothing about him at all, because he outed himself as the founder of an internet company that disseminates propaganda. He’s still the gang member he was. Or wasn’t.
I’m guessing Prigozhin is the biggest sock puppet ever. Or sock puppeteer. Who knows?
Read more of the July 5-11, 2023 issue.