Russian journalists killed in Africa

Not far from the capital of the CAR, Bangui, Orhan Cemal, Alexander Rastorguev and Cyril Radchenko were killed. Journalists worked in the framework of a joint project with the structures of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and collected material on the "Wagner" PMC.
On Tuesday, July 31, it became known about the murder in the Central African Republic (CAR) of three Russians - journalist Orhan Dzhemal, cameraman Kirill Radchenko and documentary filmmaker Alexander Rastorguev. They went to the CAR for filming a film about the activities of Russian private military companies there for the online project "Investigation Control Center." The Investigative Committee of Russia opened a criminal case on the murder of Russians, and the Russian Foreign Ministry is engaged in the return of their bodies to their homeland.

The first news about the death of Russians in the Central African Republic was reported on Tuesday by the French agency AFP. With reference to its sources, the agency reported that three Russians were stopped at the checkpoint and then killed by "unknown armed men". Their bodies were discovered north of Bangui, the capital of the CAR, on the way from Kaga-Bandoro to Sibu and delivered on Tuesday to the base of the UN mission in Sibu. First, the media reported that the driver who accompanied the Russians "disappeared". Then it turned out that he survived and gave testimony about the attack of the unknown. It was reported that the deceased found press cards of Russian media. But the Russian Embassy in Bangui did not know about the stay in the country of Russian journalists. A source at Kommersant in the Russian Foreign Ministry said that the film crew had arrived on tourist visas.

Later, the former spouse of Orhan Dzhemal, a Novaya Gazeta journalist Irina Gordienko, told The Bell that she identified her husband from the photo. Official representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia Maria Zakharova, confirming the death of the Russians, said that the Foreign Ministry is in contact with the law enforcement agencies of both Russia and the Central African Republic in order to find out the circumstances of the death and prepare the sending of their bodies to their homeland.

In the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation on Tuesday evening reported that in connection with the death of journalists a criminal case was initiated on the grounds of the crime provided for in Part 2 of Art. 105 of the Criminal Code (killing two or more people). P. 3 of Art. 12 of the Criminal Code allows the TFR to initiate and investigate cases of crimes committed by foreign nationals in other countries against Russian citizens. In such cases, the TFR can not independently conduct an investigation directly on the territory of another state, but can make the necessary inquiries to local law enforcement agencies.

Military correspondent Orhan Dzhemal, documentary filmmaker Alexander Rastorguev and cameraman Kirill Radchenko went to the CAR on July 27 to film a film about the activities of Russian private military companies (PMCs) in this country. The work was carried out within the framework of a joint project with the online resource "Center for Investigative Management", which is funded by Mikhail Khodorkovsky and specializes in investigations of Russian officials and businesspeople. "The last time the guys went to the connection on Sunday," says the "Center" message published in Facebook. "It's impossible to believe, but there is no hope that this is a mistake. This is a terrible grief for all of us. We mourn for our comrades. " An employee of the "Center" Anastasia Gorshkova told "Kommersant" that, according to her information, the equipment and a considerable amount of money were missing from the scene of the crime.

Than the dead are known

47-year-old Rostovite Alexander Rastorguev is rightfully considered one of the most significant and radical filmmakers of Russian cinema. Of his fifteen screen works, some are performed in the rare genre of documentary comedy - for example, "The Fire of the Gentle", although it would be more accurate to call them tragicomedies. There is a lot of humor in the picture "I Love You", in which young people from the working suburb take possession of a police camera and take their lives as it is. In fact, this happens under the skilful direction of the director, whose experiment allows to penetrate deeply into the social environment that he is exploring.

One of the most important films by Rastorguev is "Clean Thursday" about the soldiers of the Chechen war. Fights are not shown - instead of them at the beginning and at the end of the picture on the screen flickering mad strips, as if the transcripts to the edge of intense emotions. And the initial caption, which reports the death of a helicopter that killed the heroes of the film, makes you see completely different eyes their army life and mores, their Thursday bath rinses.

Rastorguev belonged to a group of daring, fearless, socially active documentaries, worked with Vitaly Mansky, then - with Pavel Kostomarov and Alexei Pivovarov (the three of them shot the film "The Time, the Beginning of a Great Story" about the protest movement in Russia). He was not afraid of the most acute and dangerous topics, so his Central African project is a non-random continuation of the analytical work of an outstanding cinematographer.

51-year-old Orhan Dzhemal, son of chairman of the Islamic Committee of Russia Heydar Jemal, was a famous journalist and worked in many hot spots. For two decades in journalism he collaborated with various publications, headed the department of politics in Novaya Gazeta and Versiya, wrote from the North Caucasus, from Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Georgia. For the publishing house "Kommersant" Orhan Djemal in 2011 wrote about the civil war in Libya.

Together with them died a young, but already gaining fame operator and photographer Cyril Radchenko, who worked in hot spots. In 2017, he shot a lot in Syria.

What links Russia and the CARs

About the Russian presence in the CAR, which was always the zone of special influence of France, they began talking in the last year. After the UN Security Council imposed a weapons embargo on the country in 2014, its authorities began to look for other opportunities to combat armed insurgents. In 2016, the current president of Fosten-Arshanzh Tuader came to power, contacts between Bangui and Moscow became noticeably more active. Russia began to supply weapons to the CARs, military instructors went there. Then there were reports that in the CARs, non-state actors began to operate, in particular "Wagner's PMCs".

In the French media in recent months, publications on the noticeable growth of Russian influence in the CARs have become more frequent. So, Le Monde wrote about the presence of Russian military in the CAR in April. The publication noted that the use of Moscow was transferred to the palace of Berengo in the capital and the surrounding 40 hectares - a place that was "turned into a military camp."

White people of "military appearance and not speaking French" were seen in the presidential office and in some ministries. "The appearance and clothing of these people made us think that the Moscow envoys were not, as was thought, the officers of the regular Russian army," the publication noted. In this regard, the newspaper mentioned the names of two private military companies - Sewa Security Services and Lobaye Ltd. If the president was previously heavily guarded by Rwandan soldiers from the UN mission in the CAR, Le Monde wrote, now they "stand in parking lots and in front of closed doors", and "people of Moscow" are next to the president and his inner circle. The authorities of the CAR call them "a detachment of Russian special forces to strengthen the security of the president."

In addition, the administration of the president of the CAR has a new position - "director of security", which is allegedly occupied by a Russian officer. Formally, he "is responsible for the work of a group of bodyguards," but, according to Le Monde, he is "a key intermediary for contacts between the CARs and Russia in the defense and economic spheres."

Deliveries of Russian weapons in the CARs are an "extremely sensitive" topic, which is on the personal control of the country's military and political leadership, confirms the source of Kommersant working in the MTC system. This is due not only to the unstable situation in the region, but also the difficulties that Russian negotiators faced in the process of agreeing the details of the deal, Kommersant's source continues: at the request of President Tuder, Russian specialists had to seek a special permit from the UN Security Council Committee on the CAR for arms transfers to the conditions of the embargo. The task was fulfilled: since the weapons had to be delivered in a short time, a scheme was chosen with supplies from the presence of the RF Ministry of Defense. According to Kommersant, during the period from January to February this year about 900 pistols, about 5,000 assault and 140 sniper rifles, 840 Kalashnikov assault rifles, 300 grenade launchers were delivered to the CAR. This was enough to fully re-equip two army battalions (in total 1,3 thousand people).

Together with the weapons, as stated earlier in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, five Russian officers and 170 Russian civilian instructors arrived in the CAR to train the Central African military. Russia is helping the new leadership of the CAR in the calculation of the implementation of promising projects, primarily in mining concessions, says a Kommersant source close to the Russian government: "We have our own interests in the region. And if our actions help restore calm in the CAR, we are counting on reciprocal steps from the Central African government. "

Experts describe the situation in the CAR as extremely unstable and criminogenic. "A typical situation in Africa: the country itself is very poor - and at the same time rich in natural resources, including diamonds and uranium," said Dmitry Bondarenko, deputy director of the Institute of African Studies in the Russian Academy of Sciences.

On the website of the Department of Situation-Crisis Center of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia (DSCC), which monitors the level of threats around the world, Russians are advised not to travel to the CAR at all.