Russian oligarch, known as ‘Putin’s chef,’ targeted with sanctions is on FBI’s Most Wanted list

FBI said Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin funded a St. Petersburg-based troll factory where Russians posted pro-kremlin propaganda online

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One of several Russian oligarchs being targeted for sanctions by the United States over Russia's invasion of Ukraine is a businessman with close ties to the Kremlin and is on the FBI's Most Wanted list for alleged interference in American elections. 

On Thursday, authorities announced full sanctions for eight Russian oligarchs and their family members. 

"These individuals have enriched themselves at the expense of the Russian people, and some have elevated their family members into high-ranking positions," the White House said in a statement. "Others sit atop Russia’s largest companies and are responsible for providing the resources necessary to support (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s invasion of Ukraine."

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Yevgeniy Prigozhin is one of several Russian oligarchs to be sanctioned by the United States, the White House said. He is on the FBI's Most Wanted list for allegedly interfering in U.S. elections.

Yevgeniy Prigozhin is one of several Russian oligarchs to be sanctioned by the United States, the White House said. He is on the FBI's Most Wanted list for allegedly interfering in U.S. elections. (FBI)

Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin, known as "Putin's chef," is accused of conspiracy to defraud the United States by interfering in the functions of the Federal Election Commission from 2014 to February 2018. He also allegedly funded the Internet Research Agency, a St. Petersburg-based troll factory where Russians posted pro-Kremlin propaganda online under fake names.

"He allegedly oversaw and approved their political and electoral interference operations in the United States which included the purchase of American computer server space, the creation of hundreds of fictitious online personas, and the use of stolen identities of persons from the United States," the FBI said in a wanted poster. 

"These actions were allegedly taken to reach significant numbers of Americans for the purposes of interfering with the United States political system, including the 2016 Presidential Election," the agency added. 

The FBI noted that Prigozhin has ties to Russia, Indonesia, and Qatar and should be considered an international flight risk. He is also believed to be a founder of the Wagner Group, a private paramilitary group that recently deployed 400 troops with the mission of assassinating Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

An FBI poster of Russian oligarch Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin.

An FBI poster of Russian oligarch Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin. (FBI)

Prigozhin has denied claims made by the Justice Department

Prigozhin is referred to as "Putin's chef" because of his catering businesses that host dinners for the Kremlin, the Moscow Times reported last year. The FBI is offering a $250,000 reward for information leading to his capture. 

In addition to Prigozhin, the other oligarchs targeted for full economic sanctions are: Nikolai Tokarev, along with his wife, daughter and two luxury real estate companies; Boris Rotenberg and his wife and sons; Arkady Rotenberg and his three children; Sergei Chemezov and his wife, son and step-daughter; Igor Shuvalov, his five companies, his wife, son, company jet and his daughter and her company; Alisher Usmanov, his private jet, described as one of the world's largest privately-owned aircraft, and his yacht, which was seized by Germany and is one of the largest in the world, the White House said. 

Two independent news outlets that have refused to spout the Kremlin's talking points following Russia President Vladimir Putin’s ordered invasion of Ukraine were forced off the air this week.

Two independent news outlets that have refused to spout the Kremlin's talking points following Russia President Vladimir Putin’s ordered invasion of Ukraine were forced off the air this week. (Yuri Kochetkov/Pool)

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Dmitry Peskov, Putin's press secretary was also on the list. 

The U.S. also placed visa restrictions on 19 oligarchs known for financing and directing activities in support of Russia's foreign policy. The restrictions apply to 47 of their family members and close associates as well. 

The Treasury Department will also target seven Russian entities it accused of fostering disinformation: the SDN Strategic Culture Foundation and associated outlets Odna Rodyna, Rhythm of Eurasia, and Journal Kamerton; SouthFront; SDN InfoRos; New Eastern Outlook; Oriental Review; United World International; and Geopolitical.

Twenty-six people based in Russia and Ukraine will be designated by the agency based on their roles in the organizations. 

"These entities have spread false narratives that advance Russian strategic objectives and falsely justify the Kremlin’s activities," the White House said.