Prigozhin to be investigated after being paid $2 billion in a year – Putin
MOSCOW,(Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that the finances of Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin’s catering firm would be investigated after his mutiny, saying Wagner and its founder had received almost $2 billion from Russia in the past year.
Putin initially vowed to crush the mutiny, comparing it to the wartime turmoil that ushered in the revolutions of 1917 and then a civil war, but hours later a deal was clinched to allow Prigozhin and some of his fighters to go to Belarus.
Speaking to soldiers from the Russian army at a meeting in the Kremlin, Putin said he had always respected Wagner’s fighters, but that the fact was the group had been “fully financed” from the state budget.
He said it had received 86 billion roubles ($1 billion) from the defence ministry between May 2022 and May 2023.
In addition, Prigozhin’s Concord catering company made 80 billion roubles from state contracts to supply food to the Russian army, Putin said.
“I do hope that, as part of this work, no one stole anything, or, let’s say, stole less, but we will, of course, investigate all of this.”
Prigozhin, whom Putin did not mention by name, could not be reached for immediate comment on Putin’s remarks.
He said earlier this year that he had always financed Wagner but had looked for additional financing after the war began in Ukraine.
He said on Monday that he had not been trying to overthrow the Russian state and that he remained a patriot who was trying to settle scores with the defence ministry.