In October 2019, during a meeting at the Russia-Africa summit, African Guinean President Alfa Conde asked Vladimir Putin to meet behind closed doors without assistants. The presidents did not disclose the content of the conversation, but the main interest of the 81-year-old Conde was to secure a third term prohibited by the country's constitution, Bloomberg writes. The Condo is assisted in this by the Russian ambassador and the former head of the UC Rusal security service who came under sanctions.
Conde’s second term expires in January, and last Thursday the president announced his intention to amend the constitution - to extend the president’s term from 5 to 6 years. This may allow him to take a new term already under the new constitution. Reform has been under discussion for a year. In January, Russia's ambassador to Guinea, Alexander Bregadze, caused a scandal by calling Conda “legendary” on local television and saying that the constitution should not be considered something like “the Bible or the Koran,” that is, a text that cannot be changed.
At the same time, the United States and France (Guinea - the former French colony) urge Conde not to provoke civil unrest and not change the constitution, thanks to which Conde himself became the first democratically elected head of Guinea in 2010. The conversation about the protests in Guinea is not idle: shortly before the meeting between Putin and Conde in the capital of Guinea, mass demonstrations against changes in the constitution took place. According to Human Rights Watch, at least 14 protesters and one police officer were killed in clashes during the protests.
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Guinea ranks first in the world in terms of bauxite reserves, it is the ore from which aluminum is made. And if the USA, Europe and China retain influence in other African countries, then Guinea remains one of the “friendly” Russian countries on the continent. Both “old Soviet ties” and new, “capitalist ones” work here - the license for the largest Guinean bauxite deposit has been owned by Oleg Deripaska's UC Rusal since 2001. Conde's predecessor, who seized power during the military coup of Mousse Camar, was going to nationalize the Rusal-owned Friguia plant, but Conde overturned his decision.
Three Bloomberg sources are named one of Conde’s advisers by Viktor Boyarkin, a former diplomat and security manager at Rusal. Boyarkin himself denies this. According to Bloomberg, this may be due to the fact that Boyarkin is on the US sanctions list. Because of this, he had to quit the business of Bureau Legint, which advised Guinea. He calls President Conde Boyarkin “the savior of Guinea,” and Putin, “the guru,” to whom African leaders come for advice.
Dmitry Peskov told Bloomberg that Russia has nothing to do with the “internal affairs” of Guinea. However, the leaders of the Guinean opposition doubt this. “At first, we thought that Bregadze’s comment on the constitution was the personal position of an ambassador close to Conda,” said Celu Dalein Diallo, a former Guinean prime minister and presidential candidate in the 2015 elections. “But now we are no longer sure, because Russia does not deny this position.”
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Since the beginning of the 2010s, Africa has become one of the main goals of Russian economic and foreign policy expansion. This October, the “African project” reached the highest level - the Sochi Russia-Africa Summit was held with the participation of Vladimir Putin and 43 African leaders. The US and China see Russia as the main competitor in the region, but so far we are 18 times behind China in terms of trade with sub-Saharan Africa.
All world powers see Africa as a promising field for development. In a 2014 report, Ernst & Young predicted that by the year 2030, Africa will equal per capita GDP to developing countries in Asia. The leader in investing in Africa is China: from 2005 to 2019, he invested more than $ 300 billion in sub-Saharan Africa, and a year ago Xi Jinping promised to invest another $ 60 billion in the region. In the summer of 2019, the United States introduced a new African strategy: its main goal - get ahead of China and Russia in the region.