This is part of a tranche of internal communications from deep inside infamous caterer turned troll farmer and mercenary backer Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Libya operation, always referred to simply as “the Company.” These files were originally obtained by the Dossier Centre, a London-based investigative team funded by former Russian oligarch and political prisoner Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Please see our summary in The Daily Beast.
Translator’s note: This document was written on April 4, 2019. The metadata contains the name of Aleksandr Prokofyev, an employee of the Prigozhin-linked Fund for the Defense of National Values. Prokofyev has confirmed to The Project that he was indeed in Libya but denies involvement in political activities. He returned to Russia days before two of his Russian colleagues were arrested in Tripoli.
The meeting took place at a house in the village of Zintan. It lasted around two hours.
The atmosphere of the meeting.
There was a television on in the room in which the meeting took place, showing the news on Haftar. Saif kept turning away from the main conversation to this news. He became very anxious when they showed the advance of the column towards Tripoli.
Self-perception as a candidate.
His behaviour shows clear signs of narcissism. He is convinced that as soon as he goes public the majority of the people will support him at once, and that Haftar’s people will come over to his side. But he has no understanding of the fact that these people already have positions in Haftar’s army, means for supporting their families etc. He can’t conceive anything approximating the real situation.
In contrast to his supports, who see the Muslim Brotherhood as their main threat, he considers Haftar to be the biggest threat.
Presentation of the strategy.
He agrees with the majority of the points. He did raise doubts about the party. In his opinion, “Libyans vote for a leader, not for a party.” He’s understanding about political issues and it’s easy to discuss them with him, but his profound incomprehension and inability to adequately identify these factors comes to the surface when technological and structural questions come up.
He agrees on the need for him to address the people. But will not set any schedule. He first wants to give a big interview to The New York Times.
Subsequently, he plans addresses on radio, and then on television. When asked why, he replies: “Because the tsunami is strongest off the coast.” He wants information about him to cover the people like a wave. His decision making is more narcissistic and emotional than rational.
His vision of an electoral campaign.
He clearly overestimates his appeal to the electorate. He believes that it will be enough for him to show himself to the people for them to be enthralled by him. Roughly the same thought is expressed by almost all of his supporters. Due to his lack of access to objective information, due to the filter of his own circle, he has a flawed conception of his own significance.
Despite the fact that he considers Haftar his chief foe, he is certain that his people – Gadaffi’s former officers, will come running to him at once.
He said that Haftar intends to put forth his own son as a candidate for president. He opined that this son has spent most of his life in America, and that putting him forward as a candidate is a big mistake. “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”
He already knows whom he will appoint as the managers of his electoral campaign. He considers their main qualities their authority and respect among the people. He does not realise that the main qualities necessary for running an effective campaign are organisational and professional. He argues against this.
He is asking for help in getting PR and Internet specialists (2-3 people). He is prepared to work with them online, to film videos for counter-propaganda against Haftar and then distribute them on Facebook.
He believes he should wait until dates for the elections are set before starting up his campaign.
In the event that he does not take part in the elections, he is prepared to name a successor.
I suggested to him that primaries for candidates could be held, with the aim of raising the profile of this successor and uniting supporters around him. He agreed though, in my opinion, little understood what we have in mind for the primaries.
- To work with Saif we can’t meet with him once a week. We need a constant presence. He is ready for this.
- We need to film 2-3 pieces about Haftar and his son (I think that it would be easy to find the facts, biography in America etc). This is a pretext for moving into a continuous working relationship on the campaign. It will also give me an understanding of his competence in the ongoing work process.
- Ask him to set down his vision of the calendar of his actions during the campaign.