Yesterday, Robert “Daddy” Mueller indicted 13 Russian nationals connected to an organization known as the Internet Research Agency for their alleged involvement in an online interference campaign meant to tip the 2016 Presidential election in favor of Donald Trump. The Internet Research Agency was also itself indicted, as was Yevengy Prigozhin, the Russian oligarch said to control it.
According to a June 2016 report in the independent, Russia-focused news site Meduza, Prigozhin — who began his career as a hot dog entrepreneur and became close to Putin after the Russian President ate dinner on his floating restaurant in St. Petersberg — filed 15 lawsuits against Yandex, Russia’s largest search engine, in an attempt to obscure news reports that he felt would “tarnish his reputation.”
Though the suits were filed on May 31, the day after one of Prigozhin’s bodyguards was filmed assaulting a St. Petersberg police officer, the Meduza report makes note that:
In particular, Prigozhin has demanded that Yandex delete its links to [Russian investigative news outlet] Novaya Gazeta’s report about the “troll factory,” [another Russian outlet] Fontanka’s report about Prigozhin's “business empire” in military communities (specifically, his state contracts with the Defense Ministry), and an article about military communities published on the Ukrainian news website Apostrof, with the headline “On Putin's Thieving Chef.”
Meanwhile, the Mueller indictment notes that, “On or about May 29, 2016, Defendants [...] arranged for a real U.S. person to stand in front of the White House [...] under false pretenses to hold a sign that read “Happy 55th Birthday Dear Boss,” and that Prigozhin’s 55th birthday was on June 1, 2016. Meanwhile, the indictment also indicates that by late May of 2016, the IRA had begun to engage in identity theft in order to surreptitiously funnel pro-Trump and anti-Clinton messages to social media.
Per Meduza, Yandex refused to de-index Prigozhin, and by August 2016, Prigozhin had dropped the suit.