“Putin’s Chef” to Cook for Moscow Corona Patients

Published: 20 March 2020

PrigozhinPhotoYevgeny Prigozhin (Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images)

By Zdravko Ljubas

Without the usual bidding process, Russian authorities awarded a US$190.000 contract to Yevgeny Prigozhin, a restaurant and catering businessman close to the Kremlin, to provide food for Moscow’s COVID-19 hospital patients, the Moscow Times reported on Thursday.

According to the Russian Government procurement website, Prigozhin’s AVK catering company was supposed to start supplying the Kommunarka city hospital, which serves as a quarantine for coronavirus infected and suspected patients, on March 5 and keep delivering the meals until June 5.

According to the OpenMedia news outlet, the AVK won the contract without a competitive bidding process. The catering company was chosen thanks to emergency rules applied at the time of “an accident or other natural or manmade emergencies” when “other methods for choosing a supplier which take time are impractical,” the government explained.

Prigozhin is also known as “Putin’s chef” because he has often been in charge of organizing President Vladimir Putin’s dinners with foreign dignitaries.

He is also known as being behind the infamous St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency and other pro-Putin media operations. One of his operatives came clean to reporters, sharing some of the alleged dirty work he and his team did for the oligarch — including murder.

The United States sanctioned and indicted Prigozhin in early 2018, for his financial support of the St. Petersburg troll farm accused of meddling in the 2016 presidential election, then sanctioned him again in September 2019 for attempting to influence the 2018 US midterm elections.

Back home, a Moscow court forced end of last year Prigozhin’s and another catering company that was supplying the capital’s schools with meals to financially compensate the families of schoolchildren who suffered food poisoning after consuming their meals.