VIENNA, June 5. /TASS/. Russian government was not involved in private activities of businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin or in the interference in the US election race in 2016, President Vladimir Putin said in an interview aired by Austria’s ORF broadcasting company on the eve of his visit to this country.
"Regarding Mr. Prigozhin, I’d like to ask you to draw a distinct line between the government of the Russian Federation or Russia as a state and corporate entities," he said. "You said Mr. Prigozhin is called ‘Putin’s chef’. It’s true that he works in the gastronomical sphere and has a restaurant in St Petersburg."
"Still I’d like to ask you about one thing," Putin went on. "Do you really think a restaurant owner, even if he has the ability of a hacker and owns a company in the IT sphere - and I don’t actually know what he is doing there - do you really think a man of this kind can affect elections in the US or in any European country?"
"The downhill of Western politics and media should really be impressive if a restaurant owner from Russia can wield impact on the election in the US," he said. "Ask Mr. Prigozhin personally and he will tell you the Russian state didn’t have anything to do with it."
Putin said he had made acquaintances with lots of people in Moscow and St Petersburg through the years of his career.
"There’s Mr. Soros in the US and he meddles in all sorts of situations around the world, and our American friends often say the US as a country doesn’t have anything to do with Soros’s private endeavors," he said. "And if you take us, that’s Mr. Prigozhin’s private endeavor."