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In wake of mutiny, Prigozhin’s media empire in Russia shuts down

Yevgeny Prigozhin (FBI/Released) | Russian President Vladimir (Kremlin/Released) Putin

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The media group controlled by Yevgeny Prigozhin has been closed down in what appears to more retaliation against the tycoon following a brief mutiny staged on June 24 by him and his Wagner mercenary group.

Yevgeny Zubarev, the head of Prigozhin’s RIA FAN news site, announced late on July 1 that the company was closing down, without giving a reason for the decision.

RIA FAN is the most prominent outlet of Prigozhin’s Patriot Media group, which generally hews a strongly patriotic, pro-Kremlin line while also providing positive coverage of Prigozhin’s activities and attacking rivals such as St. Petersburg Governor Aleksandr Beglov.

The Prigozhin-controlled newspaper Nevskiye novosti in St. Petersburg also announced it was discontinuing publication.

The Kommersant newspaper reported on June 30 that Russia’s state media watchdog, Roskomnadzor, had blocked Prigozhin’s media websites without explaining the reason for its actions.

“Because we cannot continue working on the Russian Internet or fulfill our obligations to our partners and advertisers, I have made the decision in conjunction with the board of the Patriot group to stop publication as of June 30,” Nevskiye novosti chief editor Andrei Krasnobayev told RFE/RL.

Prigozhin and hundreds of his armed Wagner fighters led a brief uprising on June 24 that captured the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don and threatened to carry out a march against Moscow. The crisis was defused after Prigozhin accepted a deal that would allow him to go into exile in Belarus and give his men the choice of joining him there or integrating into the Russian military.

Prigozhin has not appeared publicly since the uprising was quelled, but Belarusian strongman leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka has said he is in Belarus.

The Ostorozhno, Novosti Telegram channel reported on July 1 that Russia’s Defense Ministry had annulled a major contract with Prigozhin’s Concord catering company, which in turn was dismissing hundreds of workers. Under the contract, Concord had provided food to Russian troops fighting in Ukraine, as well as to hospitals and public organizations in the parts of Ukraine under Russian occupation.