by Edward Steen, Vienna March 21, 2023
Putin’s private, sanctioned warlord, Yevgeny Prigozhin, 61, ex-jailbird, hot-dog salesman, now billionaire founder of the murderous Wagner Group, received the same UK govt sanction for a SLAPP attack against the BBC as it granted – a libel action – against Elliot Higgins, founder of Bellingcat, in August 2021.
Prigozhin’s London solicitors, Discreet Law, (“We understand that it can be difficult to know where to begin when faced with legal issues”) had secured government permission to target Eliot Higgins, founder of investigative website Bellingcat. By December they were preparing to escalate action with a fresh permission from the government to sue the BBC as well.
OpenDemocracy revealed in January how a department of the UK Treasury, the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI), then under the control of Rishi Sunak, now prime minister, had previously authorised lawyers from Discreet Law to receive payment direct from the sanctioned oligarch in Russia, and even approved business class flights to St Petersburg for them to meet him and stay in five-star accommodation. OFSI spokesman: “Enabling people to defend themselves is part of a functioning democracy.”
The opposition Labour party demanded answers from the government on why and how it had enabled Prigozhin’s legal attack, describing it as a “perfect example” of a SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation).
- More from Open Democracy
- 21/03/23 Daily Telegraph interview with John Bolton, former US National Security Advisor, on latest China-Russia developments, on NATO, and danger of Trump returning in 2024
- AEJ 19/03/23: Tim Snyder testimony to UN Security Council on Russia playing the victim
- Foreign Policy 25/01/23 Wagner Group terrorism in Africa
- AEJ 31/03/22: AEJ backs stepped-up campaign against SLAPPs
- BBC / Meduza 11/08/21: Outrageous Wagner activities in Libya exposed
- AEJ 25/07/21 Star Russia reporter Catherine Belton and the “bespoke sewer” of London courts helping to ruin her