Meet Putin’s confidant, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who turns ‘rebel’ to upset Russia

Yevgeny Prigozhin is a Russian oligarch who deployed forces and took control of the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don on Saturday. 

The forces were seen moving north along a highway toward Moscow, President Vladimir Putin mobilised troops to put down what he called an armed rebellion by the mercenary leader. 

Here are a key things to know about Prigozhin:

Prigozhin was born 1 June 1961 and became a powerful Russian oligarch, mercenary chief, and close ally to Putin until he launched an alleged coup on Saturday, June 24, 2023.

He is the founder and owner of Russian state-backed mercenary company Wagner Group and three companies accused of interference in the 2016 and 2018 U.S. elections. 

He has been labelled “Putin’s chef”, because he owns restaurants and catering companies that offers services for the Kremlin.

He was once a convict in the Soviet Union, but now controls a network of influential companies.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is offering a reward of up to $250,000 for information leading to the arrest of Prigozhin.

The European Union (EU) imposed sanctions against Prigozhin in connection with his bankrolling the activities of Wagner Group in Libya in October 2020.

In April 2022, new sanctions were slapped on him by the EU because of his activity in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In June 2023, Prigozhin launched a mutiny against the Russian military leadership and announced he was moving his forces into Russia.

In February 2022, the United States imposed visa restrictions and froze assets of Prigozhin and his family, due to the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Prigozhin was awarded the title of Hero of the Russian Federation in 2022 and the 2022 Corrupt Person of the Year by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.