"Do you really think that the person who is engaged in the restaurant business, even having some hacking opportunities, having some private firm in this area, can affect the elections in the US or in some European country?" - said Vladimir Putin on the question of Austrian television about the possible interference of Russia in the presidential elections in the United States. Despite the fact that the Russian president tried to minimize the influence of his favorite chef Yevgeny Prigozhin, the facts show the opposite. Private interests previously convicted of fraud, robbery and involvement of minors in the criminal activities of Prigogine are taken into account even when concluding international treaties.
As it became known to The Bell, after the meeting of Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, the firm associated with Yevgeny Prigozhin, was looking for precious metals in this country. In November, in the presence of Medvedev and al-Bashir, a little-known company, M Invest, signed an agreement to obtain several concession areas for prospecting and mining of gold in the Sudan. Specialists of the company have already gone to this country, they are accompanied by fighters of PMC "Wagner", which is also associated with Prigogine.
Putin's meeting with the President of the Sudan took place at the end of November 2017 in Sochi's Bocharov Ruchei residence. These negotiations were serviced by the Prigogine catering company Concord M. Then Medvedev met with al-Bashir. The website of the government says that following the talks several agreements were signed, including concession agreements for gold mining between the Ministry of Mineral Resources of the Republic of Sudan and OOO M Invest. A division of this firm in the Sudan called Meroe Gold has already started exploration of deposits in Sudan, two sources familiar with the course of the November talks said. Both argue that "M Invest" represents the interests of Prigogine. The Genline publication in its blog on Medium also pays attention to this.
The reconnaissance is conducted on five sites, all in all about 50 geologists and other specialists are involved, says one of the interlocutors of The Bell. The volume of production the company expects is unclear. As of 2016, Sudan was the third largest producer of gold in Africa with a production volume of over 90 tons per year. According to the Chinese agency Xinhua, last year production in the Sudan exceeded 100 tons.
At the same time, the civil war in Sudan almost did not cease since the country gained independence in 1956. After the talks between Al-Bashir and the Russian authorities, not only Russian geologists, but also employees of private military companies went to Sudan (this was reported in December by the Russian service of the BBC). The mercenaries of the Wagner PMC are now being trained by military units of the Sudanese government, say informed sources, including from competing agencies. One of them specified that the number of the contingent exceeds a hundred people. Are they involved in the protection of the sites that were awarded to the concession of M Invest and the civilian specialists who arrived from Russia? It was not possible to find out. But this scheme of work of the Prigogine structure has already been tested in Syria: there they count on a quarter of oil and gas production from the fields, which are reclaimed and protected by the PMC. It is believed that the largest losses (about 300 people) a private military company incurred on February 9 while trying to capture one of the oil refineries.
Yevgeny Prigogine is familiar with Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg, where the businessman was engaged in the development of the restaurant business, Putin visited his institutions. In recent years, Prigogine's companies have been serviced by the President's managers and received major contracts from the Ministry of Defense. Prigogine since the end of 2016 is under American sanctions, and recently the US accused him and a dozen employees of the so-called "troll factory" in interfering in the American elections. It is believed that Prigogine also sponsored its creation.
In October last year, US President Donald Trump decided to exclude the Sudan from the list of "sponsoring countries of terrorism" to completely abolish economic sanctions against the Sudan, introduced almost 20 years ago, which significantly increased the country's investment attractiveness. According to Ruspres, Omar al-Bashir paid British PR companies for improving his international image after accusations of unleashing a civil war and genocide during the conflict in the Darfur region.