A powerful Russian businessman and close ally to Vladimir Putin admitted to interfering in U.S. elections on the eve of the midterm election. Yevgeny Prigozhin admitted to interference in previous elections and alluded to continuing to do so.
“Gentlemen, we interfered, we are interfering and we will interfere,” Prigozhin, who has previously been accused of influencing the outcome of elections across continents, said in a statement posted by his catering company, Concord.
“Carefully, precisely, surgically and the way we do it, the way we can,” Prigozhin, 61, said.
His remarks came the night before the midterm elections, in which Republicans will seek to take control of Congress and state-wide offices across the country.
Experts say the admission by the Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin that he has interfered in elections and would continue doing so in the future, is unsurprising, not least because it has long been known to be true
Prigozhin was responding to a request to comment on a recent report saying Russia was interfering in the midterm elections.
The vote is crucial for the legislative agenda in the rest of US president Joe Biden’s term – and could pave the way for a White House comeback by Donald Trump.
The timing of Prigozhin’s admission is being questioned by experts. While it is the first such admission from a figure who has been formally accused by Washington over Moscow’s efforts to influence American politics the timing of Prigozhin’s comments ahead of the midterm elections is also significant.
Social media analysis firm Graphika said last week that it suspected Russian operatives have used far-right media platforms to criticize Democratic candidates in the lead-up to the midterm elections in a number of key states with big elections including Georgia, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
His public statement underlines the point of such interference operations – a point that is sometimes misunderstood, experts said. By saying he is continuing to interfere – a day before the US midterm elections – he appears to be trying to shape the idea that the results cannot be trusted.
Prigozhin and a dozen other Russian nationals and three Russian companies were all indicted in 2018 as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections.
Prigozhin was charged with inciting discord and dividing American public opinion before the 2016 presidential election.