Killing of Russian Journalists In Central African Republic

Dear Readers:

This story is about the recent killing of three Russian journalists in the Central African Republic.  My main source is this piece from VZGLIAD by reporter Sergei Guryanov.

For the typical reaction of Westie media to this event, one can also read this piece in the Guardian, by Andrew Roth.  Westie media always plies the line that every Russian journalist ever killed anywhere — his blood is on the hands of the Kremlin.  And they usually end every piece, as Roth does here, with the hagiographic litany of all those martyrs slain in the Name of Journalistic Truth.  Starting with Anna  Politkovskaya, of course.  These people definitely have a bone to pick, and they are not going to give the Russian government any benefit of the doubt, whenever anybody dies.

Ignoring the hagiographical B.S. and the more dubious connections made; and just getting to the meat of this particular incident:

Roth reports that the three journalists in question (Alexander Rastorguev, Kirill Radchenko and Orkhan Djemal) had been dispatched to Africa by their editor, in order to investigate a Russian private military firm called Wagner.  Wagner, whose very existence is denied by the Russian government, is alleged be something along the lines of the American Blackwater, namely, has close ties to the government and official military, but is allowed more leeway than the regular military and frequently operates through back channels; frequently hard to distinguish from simple mercenaries.

According to Roth, the United Nations authorized Russia to provide the Central African Republic (CAR) with weapons and training, but that was supposed to be the regular Russian military, not an outfit like Wagner.  Hence the dispatching of the Russian journalists, whose assignment was to ferret out the “truth” about Wagner’s nefarious activities in the CAR.  Westie governments and media, along with their friends from among the Russian Opposition, are quite suspicious of Russia’s intentions towards Africa.  Especially after the recent military victory of the Assad government in Syria (with Russian military assistance), over Western-sponsored terrorist forces ISIS and Al Qaeda.

Geographical Backstory

As to what the CAR actually is, for the geographically challenged (and I admit I had not heard of this nation before this, myself), here is the wiki entry.  Apparently this strategically-placed landlocked country used to be a colony of France, achieved independence in 1960 and ever since then has been a hotbed of coups, wars, and ethnic cleansing.  There is an ongoing civil war teeming with militiamen and refugees.  With apologies in advance, here is an extensive quote from the wiki, to help with the backstory here:

French President François Hollande called on the UN Security Council and African Union to increase their efforts to stabilize the country. On 18 February 2014, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the UN Security Council to immediately deploy 3,000 troops to the country, bolstering the 6,000 African Union soldiers and 2,000 French troops already in the country, to combat civilians being murdered in large numbers. The Séléka government was said to be divided and in September 2013, Djotodia officially disbanded Seleka, but many rebels refused to disarm, becoming known as ex-Seleka, and veered further out of government control.  It is argued that the focus of the initial disarmament efforts exclusively on the Seleka inadvertently handed the anti-Balaka the upper hand, leading to the forced displacement of Muslim civilians by anti-Balaka in Bangui and western CAR.

On 11 January 2014, Michael Djotodia and Nicolas Tiengaye resigned as part of a deal negotiated at a regional summit in neighboring Chad.  Catherine Samba-Panza was elected as interim president by the National Transitional Council, becoming the first ever female Central African president. On 23 July 2014, following Congolese mediation efforts, Séléka and anti-balaka representatives signed a ceasefire agreement in Brazzaville.  By the end of 2014, the country was de facto partitioned with the anti-Balaka in the southwest and ex-Seleka in the northeast.  On 14 December 2015, Séléka rebel leaders declared an independent Republic of Logone.

It was into this violent ferment that the three Russian journalists were dispatched to investigate whether or not the Russian troops (who were there as part of an authorized UN peacekeeping contingent) included “Wagner” type mercenaries.

Roth cites an organization called the Investigations Management Centre (IMC), which is funded by Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a long time critic of the Putin government.  (He served serious time for tax evasion and illegal financial manipulations, then recast himself as Human Rights warrior.)  It was Khodokovsky and the IMC which dispatched the three reporters to Africa to investigate the alleged Wagner connection.  Apparently their African junket was a short one:  The trio flew in on Friday (July 27), then were ambushed and killed the following Monday (July 30) near the village of Sibut (around 300 km north of the capital of Bangui).

The VZGLIAD piece from the Russian press adds a couple of details to mull over, perhaps to prevent people from rushing to early conclusions and automatically blaming Wagner for the deaths:  According to Guryanov, the reporters made some enemies the very day after their arrival.  Citing the local radio station Ndeke Luka, the trio quickly got into a conflict with local residents, which led to their being detained by the police:

Left to Right: Rastorguev, Djemal, Radchenko

“As was narrated by people in the hotel that the journalists stayed in, after their arrival in Bangui on Saturday, 28 July, two of them registered as teachers, and third one as a journalist.  They had journalist equipment with them.”  On Sunday the journalists started to photograph a group of young merchants (who were selling their wares outside the hotel) without asking their permission.  The latter got angry and summoned the police.  The police detained the three Russians.  “They confiscated their passports, then released them.”

On Monday the Russians left the hotel driving a Toyota Hillux 4×4 pickup truck.  One of the “theories” proposed for the murder is that the men were killed by turban-headed robbers who were after the pickup truck.  The other major “theory”, of course, and the one favored by Westie media, is that they were murdered by Wagner in an attempt to prevent whatever truths from coming out, about the nefarious African activities of this Russian mercenary organization.

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