Skip to content

Putin’s Notorious ‘Chef’ Is Now Meddling Across Africa

The man indicted in the U.S. for interfering in the 2016 election is spreading Russia’s reach across the continent.

Businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, known as Putin’s “chef” because of his catering company and ties to the Kremlin, and Vladimir Putin.

Businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, known as Putin’s “chef” because of his catering company and ties to the Kremlin, and Vladimir Putin.

Photo illustration: Tom Hall/Bloomberg. Photo: AP Photo

The secretive businessman known as Vladimir Putin’s “chef” for his Kremlin catering work is alleged to have helped Russia seize parts of Ukraine, turn the tide in the Syrian war and meddle in U.S. elections. Now he’s reaching deep into Africa with an army of mercenaries and spin doctors in tow to cash in on his newfound expertise.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, a restaurateur from Putin’s native St. Petersburg, has emerged as an unlikely point man in Russia’s belated push to bolster its geopolitical might by rekindling Cold War ties across a largely underdeveloped region laden with untapped mineral wealth. Lacking the financial muscle of its main rivals, the U.S., Europe and China, Russia is carving out a niche by shoring up strongmen in unstable but potentially rich states who have a taste for Russian weaponry.