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Man behind Putin’s troll factory escapes punishment for cartel Navalny exposed

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Alexei Navalny talking about Yevgeny Prigozhin in his new video

By Sarah Hurst

Alexei Navalny has slammed a decision by Russia’s Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) not to fine the companies belonging to Yevgeny Prigozhin for organising a cartel. Prigozhin is also notorious as the man behind the St. Petersburg troll factory. In October 2016 Navalny published a video revealing how Prigozhin enriched himself through contracts to cater for schools and the military. The companies themselves have admitted being a cartel in documents Navalny displayed on his latest video yesterday, which he called “Saving Putin’s Chef”. The FAS also recognised them as a cartel.

Navalny said his Foundation for Fighting Corruption spent over a year investigating Prigozhin. The FAS should have fined his companies at least a billion roubles according to the agency’s own rules, Lyubov Sobol, a lawyer working for Navalny’s foundation, said on the video.

“This swindler was completely freed from any kind of punishment or fine,” Navalny said of Prigozhin. The head of the FAS, Igor Artemiev, has said that he is dedicated to fighting the “widespread cartelisation of the Russian economy”, Navalny’s video noted. Artemiev is also deputy to liberal Yabloko party leader Grigory Yavlinsky, who has said he is running for president again, Navalny pointed out.

No chance of fighting corruption under Putin

“Guys, understand one simple thing: there will be no fight against corruption under Putin, and there cannot be one,” Navalny said. “Putin wants to steal our money. He takes his friend and trusted representative and sets him up with the Defence Ministry budget, where he steals money for himself and for Putin,” he added.

It is understandable that the FAS doesn’t want to investigate the corruption of Putin and his associates. On Nov. 8 Timofey Kurayev, head of the FAS in annexed Crimea, was found dead in  his home at the age of 44, apparently having committed suicide. He had been looking at Crimean authorities’ control over ports on the peninsula.

But yesterday the news emerged that Russian oligarch and senator Suleyman Kerimov had been detained in Nice on suspicion of tax evasion. Putin’s aggression and illegal actions in so many countries are starting to catch up with him, and he hasn’t found a way to protect himself and his friends from prosecution abroad. He also will not be happy that former Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic has been found guilty of genocide and sentenced to life in prison, or that Robert Mugabe has been forced out of office. The net is slowly tightening.

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