In response to Russian attempts to influence U.S. democratic processes, the United States imposed sanctions on on four entities and seven individuals associated with the Internet Research Agency and its financier, Yevgeniy Prigozhin, on September, 30.
The Internet Research Agency, commonly known as one of the Russian troll factories, is accused of meddling in the 2016 presidential elections. Prigozhin, whose nickname ‘Putin’s Chef’, is notorious for patronizing the private military company Wagner – a grouping of Russian mercenaries led by Commander Dmitry Utkin.
The action targets companies Autolex Transport, Beratex Group, Linburg Industries controlled by Prigozhin, his luxury assets, including three aircraft and a vessel.
Denis Kuzmin, Igor Nesterov and another four persons linked to the above mentioned agency have been blacklisted by the USA.
“Let this serve as a warning: any actors who continue to engage with these individuals, companies, aircraft, or vessel may also be subject to future sanctions. The U.S. government will continue to work to ensure that Prigozhin and others like him find no refuge or comfort as long as they carry out destabilizing activities that threaten the interests of the United States and its allies and partners,” US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said in Monday’s statement.
At the end of 2016, Yevgeniy Prigozhin was designated by the US Department of Treasury under Executive Order 13661 for ‘having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services in support of, senior officials of the Russian Federation’.
“Prigozhin has extensive business dealings with the Russian Federation Ministry of Defense, and a company with significant ties to him holds a contract to build a military base near the Russian Federation border with Ukraine. Russia has been building additional military bases near the Ukrainian border and has used these bases as staging points for deploying soldiers into Ukraine,” the statement reads.
In February 2018, a US grand jury charged him with funding and organizing operations for the purpose of interference with the U.S. political and electoral processes.