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‘Putin’s Chef’ Ordered to Pay for Mass Child Poisonings

Michael Metzel / TASS

A Moscow court has ordered catering magnate Yevgeny Prigozhin’s company to compensate the parents of schoolchildren who suffered food poisoning last year, Interfax reported Friday.

The parents sued Prigozhin’s business alongside other companies, schools and officials this spring for the December 2018 dysentery outbreak in several state-run daycare centers and kindergartens. Officials confirmed 127 overall food poisoning cases that anti-corruption activists tied to Prigozhin, who is widely labeled “Putin’s chef” for organizing banquets for the Russian president.

The Meshchansky district court ruled Thursday that the Vito-1 and Concord food processing companies (the latter is registered under Prigozhin’s name) pay the parents 300,000 rubles ($4,700), Interfax reported. 

“They awarded 10,000-15,000 [rubles] per child,” Interfax quoted prominent anti-corruption lawyer Lyubov Sobol as saying.

Parents can decide to appeal the ruling because the compensation is too meager, Sobol said in a video outside the courthouse shared on Twitter.

The court struck down the parents’ claims against the Moscow city administration and its officials, Interfax reported.

Companies linked to Prigozhin have signed nearly 5,400 state contracts worth $3.2 billion with the military, schools and hospitals since 2011, the U.S.-funded Current Time news channel reported this year.

The Associated Press reported that Prigozhin has won $2 billion in Moscow school food-supply contracts since 2009.

Three of Prigozhin’s entities, including his Concord catering business, were indicted in the U.S. over an alleged criminal and espionage conspiracy to tamper with the country’s presidential election. The U.S. special prosecutor also personally charged Prigozhin.

Reports have also linked Prigozhin to Russia’s push for influence in Africa and deployments of private mercenaries in Syria and Ukraine. 

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