127 kids who got sick with dysentery, the Russian businessman of the Wagner fame and the school meals market worth $2 billion. My take on this surprisingly under-reported story: https://t.co/CAUvSRp85L
— Nataliya Vasilyeva (@NatVasilyevaAP) May 14, 2019
At least Betsy deVos hasn’t been responsible for any Amway-branded outbreaks of dysentery in America’s charter schools… that we know of. Yet:
… Yaroslav was one of 127 children aged 3 to 7 who were diagnosed with dysentery after eating food at seven state-run day care centers and kindergartens in Moscow in mid-December.
While reports of dysentery are not new in Russia, they mostly have struck provincial areas far from the capital and in much smaller outbreaks. Even more unusual is that the catering firm blamed by opposition activists for the outbreak at six of the seven Moscow sites is owned by businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin.
Prigozhin, who has won $2 billion in contracts for supplying food to Moscow schools since 2009, built an empire on catering and maintenance contracts for the army and has been nicknamed “Putin’s chef” for serving Kremlin functions. He also has been reported to run a private military company known as Wagner that sends Russian contractors to Syria and other countries.
The magnate was among the Russians indicted last year by a U.S. grand jury in the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, alleging he funded the internet trolls involved in interfering with the U.S. presidential election in 2016. The U.S. also imposed sanctions on Prigozhin and two of his companies, Concord Catering and Concord Management and Consulting. Prigozhin has denied any involvement, and Putin said last year that while he knew the businessman, he “doesn’t count him” among his friends.[*]
Prigozhin’s company has denied it is to blame for the dysentery outbreak. The cases have caused an outcry, thanks to a lawyer who has turned a spotlight on the caterers and has mounted a campaign to help the parents whose children fell ill…
The Federal Consumer Oversight Agency confirmed 127 cases of dysentery. At public hearings in March, the capital’s chief sanitary official, Yelena Andreyeva, denied early reports that blamed it on cottage cheese supplied by a company from southern Russia. Health and education officials would not say whether the outbreak would make them reconsider signing new contracts with Concord.
Six companies that are either directly owned by Prigozhin or affiliated with him have controlled almost all school and kindergarten catering in Moscow since 2011, providing prepared meals that can be reheated at school kitchens, according to public filings and the Spark-Interfax database…
Or, y’know, we could treat this as a warning of what happens when the Dear Leader’s cronies are allowed to turn government agencies into for-profit opportunities. Even if “science is a Democrat thing“.
[*] Seems like Prigozhin may have to be sacrificed for the good of the Russian-American Oligarchs Friendship Pact, but I’m no for-pol expert…