The EU on Thursday sanctioned senior aides to Russian President Vladimir Putin, including the man known as his chef, over the alleged poisoning of opposition figure Alexei Navalny and Kremlin ‘meddling’ in Libya’s civil war.
The EU said Yevgeny Prigozhin, nicknamed “Putin’s chef” because his company has done catering for the Kremlin, was “undermining” peace in Libya by allegedly supporting the Wagner Group private military company.
Six others, including the head of Russia’s FSB domestic spy agency, were sanctioned over the alleged attempt to murder Navalny using the Novichok nerve agent.
Prigozhin, a wealthy tycoon close to Putin, is already under US sanctions over his links to the Wagner mercenary outfit, which has been accused of interfering in various conflicts around Africa.
In its official listing, the EU said Prigozhin had “close links, including financially, to the private military company Wagner Group”.
“In this way, Prigozhin is engaged in and providing support for Wagner Group’s activities in Libya, which threaten the country’s peace, stability and security.”
The EU said Wagner had committed “multiple and repeated breaches” of a UN arms embargo on Libya, where Russia has backed warlord Khalifa Haftar in his uprising against the internationally-recognized government.
The listing means Prigozhin is banned from travelling to the EU and any assets he holds in the bloc will be frozen. EU citizens and companies are also barred from supplying him with funds.
The same penalties apply to the six listed over the Navalny poisoning, who include FSB chief Alexander Bortnikov, as well as Sergei Kirienko and Andrei Yarin — both senior members of Putin’s presidential executive office.
“It is reasonable to conclude that the poisoning of Alexei Navalny was only possible with the consent of the presidential executive office,” the EU said in its official listing.
The bloc also accused Yarin of being part of a special task force charged with countering Navalny’s influence by discrediting him.