Russian journalists killed in Central African Republic for investigative activities, not 'during robbery’
Russian journalists Orkhan Djemal, Alexander Rastorguev and Kirill Radchenko were purposefully targeted and killed in the Central African Republic in 2018, the Dossier Center (Russia) writes in its report, saying that the official account of the Russian authorities that the three were killed in a robbery is a lie.
The report also says that St. Petersburg businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin was directly involved in the hit. Prigozhni is close to the Russian president, and is known by the nickname “Putin’s chef.”
Journalists Orkhan Dzhemal, Alexander Rastorguev and Kirill Radchenko were killed in the Central African Republic on July 30, 2018. Their car was stopped by unknown persons around 10 o’clock in the evening. Behind the wheel was a local resident Bienvenu Duokam. The journalists were shot, their bodies were found by the UN mission staff 20 kilometers from the city of Sibu. The driver was left alive.
The journalists intended to produce a documentary film about what Russian private military company known as PMC Wagner or the Wagner Group was doing in the country.
But how the experienced reporters found themselves in the dark in the middle of the CAR territory, where there is a civil war raging, is unknown.
Aside from their phones, the killers did not touch any of the journalists possessions.
However, the official version of the Russian investigation remains “an attempted robbery committed by Arabic-speaking robbers.”
What is the Wagner Group
Novaya Gazeta writes the PMC Wagner is an unofficial division of the Russian military, though it is not on the balance of any Russian military departments.
However, PMC Wagner contract fighters appear every now and then where Russia is not officially participating in hostilities.
Investigative reporting has shown that PMC Wagner contract fighters have took part in ground operations in Syria and in the war in the Donbass, in eastern Ukraine.
Some speculate this division is financed by “high-ranking businessmen”, including Petersburg businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is close to President Putin.
Officially, he is a restaurateur, hence the nickname “Putin’s cook.” However, several closed and half-closed financial structures are associated with his name. Prigozhin is also considered the organizer of the “troll factory” and the creator and leader of several influential Russian propaganda publications.
There are three main pieces of evidence pointing to the involvement of Prigozhin’s men in the killing of the three journalists.
A fixer with the call sign ‘Martin’ played a key role in the preparation of the trip for the journalist to the CAR. The person’s identity has not yet been established.
‘Martin’ was supposed to meet the group on the spot and ensure their contacts and security. Presumably, the journalists were traveling to meet with Martin when they were killed. Investigators believe that ‘Martin’ does not exist at all. Martin’s phone and email information were provided to the journalists by an employee of the Federal News Agency, whose owner is Evgeny Prigozhin.
Dossier writes that the official account that an ‘ordinary robbery’ took place is refutable by many facts. It has been proven that in the Central African Republic, the journalists were followed by Prigozhin-related surveillance.
Also, the nature of their wounds “suggests that the murder was deliberate and professionally executed.”
Investigators uncovered that the scenario of ‘ten attackers’ was voiced by Prigozhin’s employees in an internal chat BEFORE the information made it to the media.
The chat participants agreed in advance that “the main source of information should be the local police and the embassy.”
According to the Dossier, now Prigozhin’s companies’ ’tasks include not only spreading false accounts of the murder of journalists, but also responding to the requests of relatives of the victims and writing the wording of statements from Russian law enforcement agencies.”