What is worse? To spread lies or to prevent others from telling the truth? The organization controlled by the Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, popularly known as “Putin’s cook,” does both, according to new reports published by the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta.
On top of these already well-described enterprises, Novaya Gazeta has now published information about an additional branch of Mr. Prigozhin’s activities: attacks on Kremlin-critical Russian bloggers and opposition activists carried out by a specialized group of thugs. According to Novaya Gazeta, the team was also specialized in using poison in its attacks, in which cases a team member, who had been trained as a professional pharmacist, played a key role.
Novaya Gazeta’s article with the headline “The Cook Likes It Hotter” has become possible thanks to the testimony of a whistleblower, Valery Amelchenko, who has worked in a unit of Mr. Prigozhin’s “security service.”
Punished for Putin Caricature
One of the victims Novaya Gazeta managed to identify is a Russian blogger named Anton Grischenko.
Appearing online under the alias Huipster, Mr. Grischenko ran a popular video blog on Youtube, in which he mainly discussed problems in his hometown of Sochi in the south of Russia.
Killed For Regime Criticism
Combining the whistleblower’s testimony with additional investigations, Novaya Gazeta also makes the strong case that a regime-critical blogger, Sergey Tikhonov, a local of Pskov in north-western Russia writing under the alias Skobars, was killed from poisoning by the team on 29 June 2016.
Novaya Gazeta’s information sheds new light onto the case of Mr. Tikhonov’s death. His friends and relatives had until now been convinced that he died from a heart attack in the street not far from his home.
Poisoned For Wife’s Investigations
Another poison attack, which Novaya Gazeta attributes to the group, has already been subject to publicity since the victim, Sergey Mokhov, is the husband of Liubov Sobol, a well-known lawyer in the Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny’s anti-corruption team.
According to Novaya Gazeta’s whistleblower, it was a member of Prigozhin’s security team who on 25 November 2016 stabbed a needle and a syringe with an unidentified substance into the thigh of Mr. Mokhov, who survived the attack but suffered convulsions and temporary loss of the ability to feel his body.
Novaya Gazeta has corroborated Mr. Amelchenko’s testimony with numerous other sources and has found it to be trustworthy.
According to the whistleblower, the group has been operating not only in Russia but has also carried out a murder in eastern Ukraine, experimented with poisonous substances on captive humans in Syria – and apparently also had activities in the EU. The whistleblower has mentioned work carried by Prigozhin team on Spain’s Canary Islands. However, Novaya Gazeta notes that this part of the testimony is not yet elaborate enough for the newspaper to be able to verify it.
Novaya Gazeta’s reporting has not gone unnoticed in Russia.
Even before the story was published, a funeral wreath with the name of the journalist who authored the article, Denis Korotkov, was sent to Novaya Gazeta, and a severed goat’s head was left in a gift basket outside the newspaper’s offices, as reported by Meduza.
After the publication, nine live sheep, some dressed in blue vests reading “Press, Novaya Gazeta,” were left in cages in front of Novaya Gazeta’s newsroom, as reported by RFE/RL.
Novaya Gazeta also published an article comparing the intimidations against Novaya Gazeta and its journalists to the recent case in Finland, where a judge punished criminals with prison and fines for harassing and slandering journalist Jessikka Aro. However, as Novaya Gazeta noted, “those who ordered, organized and carried out intimidations of [journalist Denis] Korotkov can feel completely safe, contrary to their ‘colleagues’ in Finland.”
Read more articles related to Novaya Gazeta or its reports:
- Russia’s penal reforms point to return of ‘renewed’ GULAG, Novaya Gazeta says
- Novaya Gazeta identifies Russian colonel involved in shooting down MH17
- Russian truckers’ strike far larger than it appears, Novaya Gazeta says
- Putin regime raised political police above all other force structures, ‘Novaya Gazeta’ says
- FSB helps Russian Islamists go fight in Syria, prosecutes ones who come back, Novaya Gazeta says
- Propagandist who claimed Ukraine downed MH17 distorted voice via… pot on the head
- Tribute to Anna Politkovskaya: 11 years after murder, legacy & meaning of her work remain intact
- Putin comes up with another way to hide Russian combat losses
- Kadyrov opens first concentration camp for gays since Hitler’s times
- Russian politician: Murderers of opposition figures in Russia rarely caught and those behind them almost never