UK government helped sanctioned Putin ally sue British journalist

By | January 23, 2023

Open Democracy reports:

The UK government helped the boss of Russia’s murderous mercenary army to circumvent its own sanctions and launch a targeted legal attack on a British journalist, openDemocracy can reveal.

Yevgeny Prigozhin is the founder of Wagner, a private army that the US government last week announced it would designate a “transnational criminal organisation”, allowing it to impose even tougher sanctions on the group. For years it has been accused of human rights abuses and war crimes in Ukraine and across the world in support of Putin’s regime.

Sanctions introduced in the UK and Europe in 2020 were supposed to prevent anyone from doing business with Prigozhin. He had also been sanctioned in the US in 2018.

But a vast cache of hacked emails shows that, under the leadership of Rishi Sunak, the UK Treasury issued special licences in 2021 to let the oligarch override sanctions and launch an aggressive legal campaign against a journalist in the London courts.

The notorious libel suit against Higgins personally followed revelations by his website Bellingcat about Wagner’s shadowy operations, and was part of Prigozhin’s strategy to undermine the sanctions against him.

The case collapsed in March 2022, in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But key details of how the sanctioned oligarch was able to pursue the legal attack have remained a secret until now. [Continue reading…]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email