The companies connected to the Russian businessman Yevgeny “Putin’s chef” Prigozhin have acquired more than 10 billion rubles worth of new contracts in 2019, the Russian news agency The Bell reported, citing the state procurements website and the SPARK-Interfax company monitoring service.
The Bell examined the contracts of 13 legal entities believed to be connected to Prigozhin. Aside from Concord M and the Concord catering company, companies to which Prigozhin acknowledges his connection, government contracts were awarded to another 11 companies that are thought to be connected to the businessman in one way or another. The Russian news agencies RBC, Novaya Gazeta and Fontanka have all published articles detailing Prigozhin’s ties to the other companies.
Concord M and the Concord Catering Company, which belong directly to Prigozhin, have acquired contracts to the value of 19 million rubles since the start of the year. The other companies have been awarded nearly 10 billion rubles in contracts (around $152 million) according to The Bell’s investigation.
However, the schools in Moscow are yet to make the majority of their catering contracts for the year, and so these amounts derive from contracts solely for the first two months of the year.
According to an investigation by the TV channel Current Time, the companies connected to Yevgeny Prigozhin have been awarded more than 200 billion rubles ($3 billion) in contracts since 2011.
At the start of 2019, news came out of a mass outbreak of dysentery and shigella in schools in Moscow in connection with food products from the supplier Vito-1. According to Moscow’s East Administration District, 67 students and teachers became ill after eating the contaminated food. A criminal investigation into the incident was later initiated.
The mass outbreak was reported by Radio Liberty and several other media outlets, and political activist Alexei Navalny devoted several publications to the topic. The affected schools received food from Vito-1 and the Concord Catering Company. Navalny claims that Vito-1 is also connected to Prigozhin, since both suppliers belong to the Association of Social Catering Companies in Education and Healthcare.
In February, the Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights protection and Human Well-Being recognized 127 cases of intestinal infections in Moscow. The department reported that poor quality quark (a type of curd cheese) from the Lipetsk region was the cause of the outbreak.
The catering companies initially denied any responsibility for the outbreak, but later announced that they were carrying out their own investigation into the matter, and paid compensation to the victims.