Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, appears to have admitted to Russian interference in US elections, a claim long denied by the Kremlin.
Responding to a journalist’s question about potential interference in the coming US midterm elections, Prigozhin said in a Telegram post seemed to admit Russian meddling in US politics, both in the past and ongoing.
“I will answer you very subtly, and delicately and I apologize, I will allow a certain ambiguity. Gentlemen, we interfered, we interfere and we will interfere,” Prigozhin said.
“Carefully, precisely, surgically and in our own way, as we know how. During our pinpoint operations, we will remove both kidneys and the liver at once,” he added.
The candid tone of the admission has led many to suggest Prigozhin was simply being sarcastic, something the oligarch himself has neither confirmed nor denied.
Prigozhin was indicted in 2018 along with a dozen other Russian nationals and three Russian companies, as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential elections.
The billionaire is reportedly a close friend of the Russian president, and earned the moniker “Putin’s chef” after his company became the Kremlin’s chosen caterer for events. Prigozhin’s companies have been awarded numerous government contracts to provide catering for schools and the military.
A spokesperson for Joe Biden, Karine Jean-Pierre, said the president was not surprised by Prigozhin’s remarks. “It’s well known and well documented in the public domain that entities associated with Yevgeny Prigozhin have sought to influence elections around the world including the United States,” she said.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price took a similar tone, saying Prigozhin’s statement “didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know”.
“His full confession, if anything, appears to be just a manifestation of the impunity that crooks and cronies enjoy under President Putin and the Kremlin,” Price said at a State Department briefing.
The Kremlin has offered no response to Prigozhin’s comments.