reporter's notebook

We’ve Seen Some of These Indicted Russians Before

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JUNE, 16  (RUSSIA OUT) Russian billionaire and busimessman, Concord catering company owner Yevgeny Prigozhin is seen during a meeting with foreign investors at Konstantin Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia, June,16, 2016. Vladimir Putin attends the Saint Petersburg  International Economic Forum. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)
Russian billionaire Yevgeny Prigozhin attends a meeting, June 16, 2016, in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)
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February 16, 2018 5:27 pm
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JUNE, 16 (RUSSIA OUT) Russian billionaire and busimessman, Concord catering company owner Yevgeny Prigozhin is seen during a meeting with foreign investors at Konstantin Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia, June,16, 2016. Vladimir Putin attends the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)
Russian billionaire Yevgeny Prigozhin attends a meeting, June 16, 2016, in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

Some of the names in the Mueller indictment are new to the unfolding drama, but others we know all too well. Reporting on the unprecedented Russian efforts to swing the U.S. election uncovered the work of troll farm Internet Research Agency (IRA) before Friday’s indictment; some of its most notorious characters are now wanted by the FBI. In my notebooks, I have a large collection of shady Russians too obscure to include in stories about American politics. It’s weirdly gratifying to see some of them surface in the indictment.

Here are some names that were already on our radar:

Yevgeny Prigozhin

“Putin’s Chef” is, as his nickname suggests, a close ally of the autocratic president of the Russian Federation; he is also a restaurateur who runs a tony eatery out of a repurposed yacht in St. Petersburg, the city where the IRA is also located. Concord Management and Consulting, another of the billionaire Russian’s main businesses, is also named in the indictment. Prigozhin is notoriously vain: He sued internet company Yandex 15 times in a a single year, according to CNN, over “illegal, inaccurate, or irrelevant information.” He also spent nine years in prison in the 1980s for fraud and robbery. The Anti-Corruption Foundation, a Russian non-profit founded by Putin nemesis Alexey Navalny in 2011, accuses Prigozhin of defrauding the Russian government of billions of rubles.

Mikhail Bystrov

Wired reported in September that Bystrov, former head of the IRA, is still very much in the same business: He runs a new Russian troll farm, called Glavset, out of St Petersburg. Actually, he runs Glavsest out of the same office building where the Internet Research Agency used to be.

Mikhail Burchik

Burchik appears to have supervised one of the more disturbing operations detailed of the indictment. The document alleges that two women who worked for the Kremlin obtained tourist visas in 2014 and toured the U.S. gathering intelligence for use in IRA’s election interference campaign. Burchik, a 30-year-old “internet entrepreneur,” according to English-language Russian news site Meduza, was “executive director” of one of the many legal entities associated with the troll farm.

Dzheykhun “Jay” Aslanov

The head of the IRA’s American unit, which was responsible for many of the activities detailed in the indictment, Aslanov is most notable for his role in a gimlet-eyed account of his work at the IRA offered by one of the group’s former employees, Alan Baskayev, who gave a lengthy interview to Russian TV network Dzodh last year. “Jay was a really not bad manager: not the most competent in this field, well, frankly speaking, generally incompetent, but he had assistants,” Baskayev recalled.

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