The GuardianThe Guardian

Yevgeny Prigozhin: The hotdog seller who rose to the top of Putin’s war machine

By Shaun Walker and Pjotr Sauer

24 Jan 2023 · 16 min read

Editor's Note

The Guardian has newly uncovered details about the founder of the Wagner Group of Russian mercenaries; he's a former caterer who refers to Vladimir Putin as “papa.”

At the height of Russia’s first, covert invasion of eastern Ukraine, in summer 2014, a group of senior Russian officials gathered at the defence ministry’s headquarters, an imposing Stalin-era building on the banks of the Moskva River.

They were there to meet Yevgeny Prigozhin, a middle-aged man with a shaven head and a coarse tone whom many in the room knew only as the person responsible for army catering contracts.

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