The leader of Russia’s mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, takes his orders from Vladimir Putin, a former oligarch has claimed. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was once Russia’s richest man and spent a decade in prison after accusing Putin’s inner circle of corruption, make the allegation during an appearance at the Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday.
The mercenary organisation, known as the Wagner Group, is led by Prigozhin.
Prigozhin is known as “Putin’s chef” and is said to be a “significant and important tool for the Kremlin”.
The ex-hot dog salesman gained the nickname after his company won catering contracts from the Kremlin.
Prigozhin’s contracts even saw him provide school meals across Moscow.
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Mr Khodorkovsky told MPs: “He is in direct contact with President Putin and he receives instructions from him.”
He added: “He has a lot of personal meetings with Putin.”
Khodorkovsky even claimed Prigozhin has as much influence as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov or Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.
The Wagner Group has been accused of committing atrocities in Ukraine, Syria and Africa.
The update added: “Prigozhin’s has recently discussed plans to create a 200km long defensive ‘Wagner Line’ in eastern Ukraine. This endeavour would require a large labour force.
“There is a realistic possibility that some of the convict recruits will initially be put to work constructing the defences.”