‘Yevgeniy Prigozhin’ is ‘Under a Felony Indictment in the US’

After a June 2023 Wagner Group “rebellion” in Russia, the evolving story took yet another turn after its purported leader, Yevgeniy Prigozhin was identified as being under “felony indictment” and “wanted” by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Tweets About Prigozhin and the Internet Research Agency

A pair of interlinked tweets claimed that Yevgeniy Prigozhin was linked to a notorious “Russian troll farm,” the Internet Research Agency (IRA):

Fact Check

Claim: Wagner Group operative Yevgeniy Prigozhin was “under felony indictment” in the United States “for committing federal crimes while seeking to interfere in the United States political system, including the 2016 Presidential election.”

Description: Yevgeniy Prigozhin, identified as the leader of the Wagner Group rebellion in Russia, is claimed to be under “felony indictment” and “wanted” by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). He was charged for allegedly “committing federal crimes while seeking to interfere in the United States political system, including the 2016 Presidential election.”


Rating Explanation: Multiple sources, including the official press release from the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), confirm that Yevgeniy Prigozhin was indicted in 2018 under the charges of interfering in the United States political system, including the 2016 Presidential Election. Hence the claim made is true.

Wagner Group Rebellion

On June 23 and 24 2023, the Wagner Group, a “private military company” or PMC, made global headlines after a “rebellion” was organized and briefly executed during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Kyiv Independent summarized the brief conflict:

Visually, the scene was a familiar one. Russian armored vehicles emblazoned with the Z logo in the central streets of a once peaceful city, masked soldiers standing at key intersections, and confrontational conversations with bemused local civilians.

But this wasn’t a Ukrainian city in the first days of Russia’s full-scale invasion. It was the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, overrun on the morning of June 24 by its own countrymen.

An armed insurrection began in Russia the day before, and, before it abruptly came to an end, looked poised to soon break out into open, large-scale violence. The notorious Wagner mercenary force, once often called “Putin’s private army,” occupied two major regional capitals and began a march on Moscow.

Its leader, outspoken war criminal Yevgeny Prigozhin, turned his sights not only on his arch-rivals, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and head of the Russian General Staff Valerii Gerasimov, but, de factoon the entire Russian regime including dictator Vladimir Putin.

An explainer blurb from The Guardian offered further context:

It was a dramatic 24 hours in Russia, when the leader of the Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, mutinied, turning his forces back toward Russia in what he described as a ‘march for justice’. The organisation has been one of the most effective parts of Vladimir Putin’s fighting machine in Ukraine, but a feud between Prigozhin and senior Russian generals had been simmering for months over the Kremlin’s leadership of the invasion and occupation of Ukraine. It was an airstrike by the Russian army that apparently provoked Prigozhin to launch a bold and audacious march on Moscow, which almost sparked a civil war, forcing Putin to fortify the capital and declare an emergency. After sweeping through much of Russia on the way to the capital, he eventually called it off when a deal was brokered by the Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko. The rebellion marks the most direct threat to Putin’s grip on power since he first became president 23 years ago.

Yevgeniy Prigozhin ‘Under Federal Indictment’

In a June 27 2023 post to Mastodon, journalist Joshua Holland said:

Kinda odd that Yevgeniy Prigozhin was the subject of days of wall-to-wall press coverage and while I there were some references to his involvement in the Internet Research Agency, I didn’t see any mention of the fact that he’s under a felony indictment in the US for conspiring to get #Trump elected.

Holland described “wall-to-wall press coverage” of the Wagner Group rebellion, an incident that indeed generated widespread coverage globally. Holland also asserted Prigozhin was “under a felony indictment” in the United States for “conspiring to get Trump elected.”

Finding information using the online tools available to us is far more difficult than it was even a few months ago. However, using Google News, we added “indictment” to Prigozhin’s name, and our search returned a small number of articles in which it was mentioned. On June 27 2023, Columbia Journalism Review (CJR)’s “Prigozhin and the press” mentioned the indictment in the context of information warfare:

Claims of Prigozhin’s involvement in information warfare on Putin’s behalf date back to at least the early 2010s, when, according to the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, he backed a documentary casting anti-Putin protesters as paid puppets, including of the US. Novaya Gazeta would also link Prigozhin to the financing of the Internet Research Agency, a troll farm that pumped out fake news of increasingly international import, after a reporter from the paper went undercover to seek a job at the agency and discovered that one of its managers was an employee of Prigozhin’s holding company, whom Prigozhin had allegedly asked to spy on Novaya Gazeta. The IRA, of course, would go on to dominate headlines in the US after it launched an online operation aimed at influencing the 2016 presidential election. Early in 2018, Prigozhin himself was indicted in the US. “The Americans are very impressionable people; they see what they want to see,” Prigozhin was quoted as saying in response, denying any involvement in election meddling. “If they want to see the devil, let them see him.”

Three articles from June 24 2023 mentioned Prigozhin’s indictment. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported:

In 2018, two years after the U.S. president election that was won by Donald Trump, the U.S. Justice Department indicted Prigozhin and 13 other Russians, and issued an arrest warrant for him, accusing him conspiracy to commit election fraud.

British newspaper The Guardian referenced it too:

The seeds of the [June 2023 Wagner Group] insurrection were sown nearly a decade ago when Russia illegally annexed the Crimean peninsula and sent proxy forces into eastern Ukraine [in 2014]. Prigozhin then founded the Wagner mercenary group, which gave Putin a tool for more active military intervention and some degree of plausible deniability.

Prigozhin also set up an army of keyboard trolls, and was indicted in the US for interfering – through his digital warriors – in the 2016 election that brought Trump to power.

Until last year [2022], Prigozhin sued journalists who linked him to these activities, and insisted he only worked in catering and hospitality.

A Forbes.com blogger published “Who Is Yevgeny Prigozhin: ‘Putin’s Chef’ Now Chief Rival Interfered With 2016 U.S. Election” on the same date. It read in part:

A federal grand jury indicted Prigozhin and 12 other Russian nationals in 2018 for allegedly interfering in U.S. elections, according to the Justice Department. The indictment alleges Prigozhin funded the Internet Research Agency, which employed the Russian nationals, through several of his companies, who allegedly created a reported “troll army” of accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and made it appear as though they were controlled by Americans. They then used those social media accounts to sway American users to vote for certain political candidates, including Donald Trump, while recruiting other users to promote political campaigns or stage rallies. Prigozhin—who initially denied any involvement—later admitted to interfering in U.S. elections and indicated he would continue to do so.

Holland’s post linked to a United States Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Public Affairs press release entitled “Grand Jury Indicts Thirteen Russian Individuals and Three Russian Companies for Scheme to Interfere in the United States Political System,” dated February 16 2018:

The Department of Justice announced that a grand jury in the District of Columbia today [February 16 2018] returned an indictment presented by the Special Counsel’s Office. The indictment charges thirteen Russian nationals and three Russian companies for committing federal crimes while seeking to interfere in the United States political system, including the 2016 Presidential election. The defendants allegedly conducted what they called “information warfare against the United States,” with the stated goal of “spread[ing] distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.”

“This indictment serves as a reminder that people are not always who they appear to be on the Internet,” said Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. “The indictment alleges that the Russian conspirators want to promote discord in the United States and undermine public confidence in democracy. We must not allow them to succeed. The Department of Justice will continue to work cooperatively with other law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and with the Congress, to defend our nation against similar current and future schemes. I want to thank the federal agents and prosecutors working on this case for their exceptional service. And we received exceptional cooperation from private sector companies like Facebook, Oath, PayPal, and Twitter.”

According to the allegations in the indictment, twelve of the individual defendants worked at various times for Internet Research Agency LLC, a Russian company based in St. Petersburg, Russia. The other individual defendant, Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin, funded the conspiracy through companies known as Concord Management and Consulting LLC, Concord Catering, and many subsidiaries and affiliates. The conspiracy was part of a larger operation called “Project Lakhta.” Project Lakhta included multiple components, some involving domestic audiences within the Russian Federation and others targeting foreign audiences in multiple countries.

Internet Research Agency allegedly operated through Russian shell companies. It employed hundreds of persons for its online operations, ranging from creators of fictitious personas to technical and administrative support, with an annual budget of millions of dollars. Internet Research Agency was a structured organization headed by a management group and arranged in departments, including graphics, search-engine optimization, information technology, and finance departments. In 2014, the agency established a “translator project” to focus on the U.S. population. In July 2016, more than 80 employees were assigned to the translator project …

In the press release, the Justice Department described some of the alleged activities and initiatives undertaken by the indicted before, during, and after the 2016 election:

The Russians also recruited and paid real Americans to engage in political activities, promote political campaigns, and stage political rallies. The defendants and their co-conspirators pretended to be grassroots activists. According to the indictment, the Americans did not know that they were communicating with Russians.

After the [2016 general] election, the defendants allegedly staged rallies to support the President-elect while simultaneously staging rallies to protest his election. For example, the defendants organized one rally to support the President-elect and another rally to oppose him—both in New York, on the same day.

On September 13, 2017, soon after the news media reported that the Special Counsel’s Office was investigating evidence that Russian operatives had used social media to interfere in the 2016 election, one defendant allegedly wrote, “We had a slight crisis here at work: the FBI busted our activity…. So, I got preoccupied with covering tracks together with my colleagues.”

Holland’s post was accurate on both counts: Yevgeniy Prigozhin was indeed  indicted in the United States in 2018 for allegedly “committing federal crimes while seeking to interfere in the United States political system, including the 2016 Presidential election,” and that information was not commonly mentioned in news about the June 2023 Wagner Group rebellion.


After a June 2023 conflict between Russia and the Wagner Group, social media posts asserted ringleader Yevgeniy Prigozhin was indicted in the United States in 2018. Prigozhin’s name was prominent in the news cycle in late June 2023, but mentions of his prior indictment were not.