Putin‘s new battlefield against the West

When the Central African Republic, rich in minerals but unstable since independence from France on August 13, 1960, turned to Russia for help in ending its last civil war, the Kremlin apparently turned to Evgeny Prigogine, known for his brigade mercenaries. “Wagner”, writes “Sunday Times”.

His forces began to take steps to seize the gold and diamond deposits from the rebels. Prigogine is currently linked to the numerous mining, security and logistics companies that have been established in the country since 2017, and the number of Russian “instructors” stationed in support of President Tuandere in his battle against Muslim rebel groups, has grown over the years from a few hundred to more than 2,000 today, according to UN estimates.

Their appearance coincided with an anti-French social media campaign and the birth of a Russian radio station. The number of pro-Russian Facebook pages has increased, as have billboards depicting local soldiers under the Russian flag in the capital, Bangui. Prigogine even sponsored a football tournament and hosted the Miss Central Africa beauty pageant.

However, the greatest generosity of Russian propaganda was an action film glorifying the role of Russian military “instructors” in the country, shown at a crowded stadium in Bangui in May, a few days before it was shown on Russian television, showing healthy Russian lucky soldiers as valiant. heroes outnumbered in battle bandits coming out of the bush on motorcycles to kill and plunder civilian villages.

However, the reality seems far from it and Russia’s attempts to win hearts and minds have gone downhill, the Sunday Times commented.

Opponents of the government are calling for the expulsion of Wagner’s men, as locals call the mercenaries. But this is unlikely. Russia seems to continue to dominate the presidential palace in Bangui, the capital.

Valery Zakharov, a Russian intelligence officer, has been appointed head of Tuandera’s security service and has his own office in a modernist building. The Presidential Guard includes Russian mercenaries. French President Macron called Tuandera “Wagner’s hostage”.

In the CAR, however, Russia’s promise of stability turned out to be an illusion. A peace agreement between the government and 14 rebel groups was signed in February 2019, and Prigogine, 60, was spotted at the ceremony. Since then, the conflict that has been simmering since 2012 has only intensified – along with abuses. The UN reports various examples in its report.

At the same time, the report notes that fears of repression make it difficult to gather evidence: People have disappeared without a trace after being detained by national security forces and Russian instructors. As a result, victims are afraid to file a complaint with local authorities.

According to a diplomatic source familiar with the region, this means that the abuses described in the UN report are “the tip of the iceberg.” Employees of the world organization have never seen anything like it. And these are people who have worked in the worst places.