Yevgeny Prigozhin is a Russian businessman and the head of the Wagner Group, a private military company that has been linked to Russian military operations in Ukraine and Syria.
He was born on June 1, 1961, in Leningrad, Soviet Union (now Saint Petersburg, Russia).
Prigozhin had been nicknamed “Putin’s chef” due to his close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his catering business that has provided meals for Putin and other Russian officials.
His career has been marked by controversy.
In 2018, he was indicted by the United States for allegedly interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election through his involvement with the Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll farm.
Prigozhin denied the allegations.
On June 22, 2023, Prigozhin’s Wagner Group led a mutiny against the Russian army in Syria, resulting in the deaths of several Russian soldiers.
Prigozhin was reportedly on board a private jet that crashed in Russia on August 23, 2023, killing all 10 people on board.
The cause of the crash is currently unknown.
🇷🇺 The Former-Leader of the Wagner PMC Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin is now CONFIRMED to have DIED when his jet crashed the Tver Region of Western Russia. pic.twitter.com/wJ2XV3ise9
— Jackson Hinkle 🇺🇸 (@jacksonhinklle) August 23, 2023
Yevgeny Prigozhin children
Prigozhin has been married to Lyubov Valentinovna Prigozhina, and they have two daughters named Polina and Veronika.
While their daughters were born in 1992 and 2005, respectively, Prigozhin also has a son named Pavel, born between 1996 and 1998.
Yevgeny Prigozhin parents
Prigozhin was born in Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, in 1961.
His father, Viktor Yevgenyevich Prigozhin, was a mining engineer who died when Yevgeny was nine years old.
His mother, Violetta Kirovna Prigozhina, worked as a hospital nurse and supported him and his sick grandmother.
Yevgeny attended the 62 Sports Boarding School in Leningrad, which was known for producing Olympic athletes.
He was sent there to study and participate in daily activities, which often involved hours of cross-country skiing.
Prigozhin’s father and stepfather were of Jewish descent.
Many of those who have known Prigozhin say that for years he has seen himself as a defender of the little guy taking on the elites, an incongruous characterization given the riches he has acquired for himself and his family along the way.
Yevgeny Prigozhin mutiny against Russia
Prigozhin led a mutiny against the Russian government.
The mutiny was carried out by his Wagner force, a private military company that he owns.
Prigozhin stated that the mutiny was intended to register a protest over the ineffectual conduct of the war in Ukraine, not to overthrow the government in Moscow.
He also claimed that his private military company was supposed to cease to exist on July 1 due to “intrigues and ill-considered decisions”.
The Wagner forces took over the Southern Military District Headquarters and advanced towards Moscow, but Prigozhin abruptly ordered his men to turn around and return to their bases after 24 hours.
He claimed that they blocked all military units and airfields that were in their path and struck at aviation because they were being attacked.
The mutiny has raised questions about Prigozhin’s explanation for why he sent his forces into Russia and whether he had long been planning a challenge to Russia’s military leadership.
It has also undermined the image of Putin as a strong leader with a firm grip on power.
Prigozhin is a billionaire with ties to the Kremlin and has been involved in various controversial activities, such as interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election with his so-called troll farm.
He has a long-running feud with the Russian military leadership.
There were several events that led to the mutiny by Prigozhin’s Wagner force.
Factions in Russia’s conventional forces first deprived Wagner of ammunition and then attacked Prigozhin’s paramilitary cadre as they exited Bakhmut.
Prigozhin began signaling as early as April that he feared a stalemate or worse was imminent in Bakhmut.
He made a series of dramatic threats, including a scene where he shouted at top military officials on camera as he stood in a field strewn with Wagner Group corpses.
Prigozhin repeatedly stated that he planned to pull Wagner forces out of the decimated city in eastern Donbas and announced a full withdrawal of his paramilitary contingent at the end of May.
Despite the lack of expected military defections, Wagner fighters were still able to drive from the southern Russian region.
Prigozhin ordered his forces to seize the Southern Military District Headquarters and advanced towards Moscow.
They traveled 780 kilometers and reached within 200 kilometers of Moscow but after 24 hours, Prigozhin ordered his forces to turn around and return to their bases.
He claimed that they blocked all military units and airfields in their path and struck at aviation because they were being attacked.
Prigozhin stated that they stopped to prevent shedding the blood of Russian soldiers.
The mutiny by Prigozhin’s Wagner force revealed a crack in the unity of the elites around Putin and raised the likelihood of more fissures.
It also undermined the image of Putin as a strong leader with a firm grip on power.
Following the mutiny, Prigozhin agreed to disband the Wagner Group in exchange for being able to live in exile in Belarus.