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‘Putin Chef’ Case Shows London Courts Welcome Russians No More

After a storming decade when London was the venue of choice for rich Russians fighting legal cases, the city’s law firms are now agonizing over whether it’s just too risky to work for them. 

Yevgeny Prigozhin 

Yevgeny Prigozhin 

Photographer: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images 

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Yevgeny Prigozhin — a Kremlin confidante better known as “Putin’s chef” or as the founder of the mercenary outfit called the Wagner Group —  saw his defamation case thrown out in May by a London court because his lawyers no longer wanted to represent him.

The 61-year-old ally of President Vladimir Putin, sanctioned by the UK, US and the European Union, sued the founder of the investigative journalism organization Bellingcat for libel and was accused of using the courts to intimidate and silence the outfit.  The case collapsed after Discreet Law, the firm representing Prigozhin, withdrew, saying it could not risk its reputation after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Prigozhin was livid, with his company saying in a statement that it was “objectively impossible to find another English legal representative.” One British law firm told his assistants that if it took up his case, there would be “nothing left of our firm.”