Putin’s Chef Sends ‘Bloody’ Sledgehammer to EU Parliament
A sledgehammer smeared with fake blood, packed in a violin case – that was Russian tycoon Yevgeny Prigozhin’s macabre message to the European Parliament after EU legislators demanded that his notorious mercenary group be placed on the EU’s terrorist list.
The European Parliament had passed a resolution on the latest developments in Russia’s war against Ukraine on Wednesday, identifying Russia as a “state sponsor of terrorism” that employs “means of terrorism”.
The non-binding symbolic document urged the EU’s decision maker, the Council of Europe, to add Prigozhin’s Wagner Group to the terrorist list, along with the 141st Special Motorized Regiment, known as the Kadyrovites, and other Russian-funded armed organizations, militias, and proxies.
The Wagner Group gained notoriety from 2014 to 2015 for fighting alongside separatist soldiers of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics in Ukraine. Russian mercenaries within the group, also known as Putin’s Army, have allegedly been involved in many other fights, including severe atrocities, in Libya, the Central African Republic, Syria, and Mali.
Prigozhin, a food services mogul considered one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest friends and dubbed “Putin’s Chef”, lost no time in reacting to the news from Strasbourg. His press service announced on its Telegram and VK channels that he had gathered Wagner commanders to denounce the resolution.
“I’m not sure which law the European Parliament is bound by, but according to our legislation, the European Parliament is dissolved as of today,” Prigozhin said.
His next message was the bloody sledgehammer, its head engraved with the Wagner logo, symbolically delivered to a representative of Cyber Front Z, a pro-Russia trolling organization that mobilizes harassment by fans of Putin’s war in Ukraine via social networks.
“The information briefcase was handed over to a representative of Cyber Front Z, to be forwarded to the European Parliament,” Prigozhin’s service announced.
Accidentally or not, the European Parliament’s website was hacked soon after Prigozhin's message.
Roberta Matsola, the president of the European Parliament, confirmed that the institution’s website was under a sophisticated cyberattack and that a pro-Kremlin group has claimed responsibility.
“This, after we proclaimed Russia as a state-sponsor of terrorism. My response: #SlavaUkraini,” she tweeted.
The website was up and running again within hours, making the EU Parliament’s resolution, as well as other content, available to the public again.
The resolution also calls on the European Commission and EU member states to come up with ways to enforce the Parliament’s decision, as the EU cannot officially designate states as “sponsors of terrorism”.
European lawmakers also called on the Union’s executive body – the European Commission – “to come forward with a legislative proposal to amend the current EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime (EU Magnitsky Act) by extending its scope to include acts of corruption, to swiftly adopt targeted sanctions against individuals responsible for high-level corruption in Russia and Belarus, as well as their EU-based enablers and beneficiaries.”
They also urged the commission and fellow legislators to complete the legal framework for confiscating Russian assets frozen by the EU, so they could be used to ameliorate the consequences of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, such as Ukraine’s reconstruction and compensation for victims.