Democrats on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations asked the European Union Ambassador to the United States to relay the message that the EU should slap Yevgeniy Prigozhin (a.k.a. “Putin’s Chef”) with additional sanctions, in order deter him and the Kremlin from engaging in election interference activities in 2020.
Senate Democrats Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) signed the Thursday letter to Ambassador Stavros Lambrinidis, who is also a lawyer.
They asked the the EU to “take steps to substantially increase economic pressure on and isolation of Russian national Yevgeniy Prigozhin.”
Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch nicknamed “Putin’s chef,” is under indictment in the U.S. for interfering in the 2016 election. He got the nickname because he is Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “go-to oligarch.”
The Department of Justice charged Prighozin and many others in 2018 as part of the Internet Research Agency indictment. The indictment spelled out the connection between Prigozhin, the Internet Research Agency, and Concord Management and Consulting, LLC. Prigozhin and Concord allegedly bankrolled the troll farm as part of a massive conspiracy to interfere in the 2016 election.
Prigozhin has already been sanctioned by the U.S., but the senators say the EU should step in and step up.
“The Wagner Group, an entity closely tied to Prigozhin, has been sanctioned by the United States for its role in support of Russian forces in Ukraine,” the letter said. “We know that Mr. Prigozhin and his associated firms remain actively engaged in spreading malign influence.”
“As the presidential election in the United States draws closer, our concerns about foreign interference have intensified,” they continued. “The U.S. and European Union should be unified in facing this common threat and take concrete measures to isolate this malign actor and his affiliated firms.”
Prigozhin submitted a sworn declaration eight days ago as part of the lingering Russian troll farm case that former special counsel Robert Mueller brought. The declaration came after the government claimed that a mystery witness was prepared to implicate Prigozhin in election interference.
You can read the letter below.
[Image via Omer Messinger/Getty Images]