Putin's 'chef' pays Russian operatives released by Libya

Putin's 'chef' pays Russian operatives released by Libya
2 min read
14 December, 2020
Yevgeny Prigozhin, an ally of Russian President Vladmir Putin, will reportedly support the two men with 18 million rubles ($246,420) each.
Prigozhin is sanctioned by the EU and the US over his links to Wagner [
An ally of President Vladimir Putin has shelled out nearly $500,000 to two Russian political operatives recently freed by Libya after 18 months in captivity, his company said Monday.

Russian media last week reported that Maxim Shugaley and his interpreter Samir Seifan, who were arrested in Libya in May 2019 on charges of vote meddling, were released on December 10 and were flying back to Russia.

Concord, a company owned by EU-sanctioned businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, said on Monday that he would be supporting the two men with 18 million rubles ($246,420, 202,600 euros) each - 1 million rubles for each of the 18 months they were held captive.

"Russians don't abandon their own!" Concord said in a statement on the social media network Vkontakte.

Nicknamed "Putin's chef" because his company has catered for the Kremlin, Prigozhin was sanctioned by the European Union in October on grounds of undermining peace in Libya by supporting the Wagner private military company.

Prigozhin, 59, was earlier sanctioned by the United States for his links to Wagner, which has been accused of sending mercenaries to fight in conflicts in Libya, Syria and countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

In conflict-torn Libya, Moscow backs strongman Khalifa Haftar against the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).

Shugaley and Seifan - both Russian citizens - were accused last year by Libyan authorities of election meddling on behalf of Moscow while they were working with the son of ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Read more: Russians spin-doctors linked to infamous troll farm arrested in Libya

Russia had made their release a condition for any improvement in relations with the internationally recognised Tripoli-based government.

Both operatives were employed by the Foundation for the Defence of National Values, a Moscow-based organisation that is part of a media group the United States has linked to Prigozhin.

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