Last week, Yevgeny Prigozhin—the former leader of the Russian proxy military group Wagner—died in a plane mishap that was almost certainly retribution for his attempted mutiny in June. Since his death, headlines have appeared in Jewish publications claiming that Prigozhin had, or might have had, Jewish ancestry. Tom Gross puts paid to these claims, and traces their proliferation:
The first round of headlines claiming Prigozhin was Jewish appeared some months ago. As I said at the time, there is no evidence whatsoever that the claim is true. The rumors that Prigozhin “had Jewish blood” were started by Ukrainian websites that were trying to discredit Prigozhin among his fellow Russians.
These false claims were then picked up in an irresponsible way by prominent Israeli media outlets, no doubt eager for page clicks in today’s overly competitive, increasingly down-market media environment. These include the online edition of Israel’s best-selling newspaper Yediot Ahronot.
Prigozhin’s Wikipedia page, which appears in 71 languages, is now locked and cannot be edited. It says that Prigozhin’s father is Jewish, referencing an article in the Times of Israel. That article is also incorrect. It has been changed to reflect this, but the Wikipedia entry has not. Other media continue to promote this falsehood.
I have checked and, as far as I can tell, there is no evidence that Prigozhin was in any way Jewish. Indeed, his right-hand man Dmitry Utkin, who died alongside him, was an outright Nazi with swastika and SS tattoos. . . . In a world where anti-Semitism is unfortunately still rife, these kinds of headlines are unhelpful, to put it mildly.