The Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) and the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Ministry of Defense are competing for the assets of Yevgeny Prigozhin, writes the New York Times, which spoke with current and former officials in the United States, Europe, Africa and Russia, as well as with four Russians who worked for Prigozhin .
Unnamed Western officials who reviewed confidential intelligence assessments said that the SVR lays claim to Prigozhin’s propaganda resources, and the main directorate of the General Staff of the Ministry of Defense claims to control the Wagner PMC mercenaries.
The New York Times notes that a delegation arrived in Burkina Faso and Mali last week, which included Deputy Defense Minister Yunus-Bek Yevkurov and intelligence officer Andrei Averyanov, who, as the newspaper previously claimed, in 2019 led the secret military unit of the GRU, which specializes in sabotage abroad.
According to French officials the New York Times spoke to, the day after the publication of the video of Prigozhin from Africa – the first since the mutiny – Yevkurov came to Libya for talks with the country's military leadership and said that “relations are being reviewed” – the mercenaries will remain in Africa , but they will be led by Russian military intelligence.
The New York Times adds that the transfer of assets is complicated by the “dedication” of the Wagner PMC fighters to Prigozhin. American officials who spoke with journalists suggested that his 25-year-old son Pavel might try to establish control over Prigozhin’s business.
In 2022, the total revenue of 149 companies owned or associated with Yevgeny Prigozhin amounted to about 75 billion rubles, the Agency calculated. The publication noted that this is only a visible part of the business empire of the founder of PMC Wagner, but even it is comparable to the turnover of companies whose owners are among the 200 richest Russians with a fortune from 400 to 550 million dollars.
In June, Putin said that from May 2022 to May 2023, the state paid Wagner PMC 86 billion and 262 million rubles. In addition, the owner of a private military organization, the Concord company, earned 80 billion rubles from the state through Voentorg – the company supplied food and provided nutrition services to the army. The Agency noted that these amounts are significantly higher than those reflected in the companies’ reports, which means the revenue could be higher.
A business jet of the Brazilian company Embraer, owned by Prigozhin, crashed on the evening of August 23 near Tver. Prigozhin and a number of his associates, including the commander of the Wagner PMC Dmitry Utkin, were on the flight. All ten passengers and crew were killed. The Investigative Committee claims that molecular genetic testing confirmed their identities.
According to presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov, the investigation is considering the version that the crash of Prigozhin’s plane was a “deliberate crime.” At the same time, Russia did not allow representatives of Embraer and the Brazilian authorities to participate in the investigation.
As Reuters noted, Prigozhin’s business jet model had a good safety record. Representatives of Embraer said that due to US sanctions, in 2019 they stopped servicing the plane of the head of Wagner PMC, purchased in October 2018.