Russian journalists in C Africa 'killed by nine-man group': govt

2018-08-02 12:20
Photographs of Russian journalists (L-R) Alexander Rastorguyev, Kirill Radchenko and Orkhan Dzhemal, who were recently killed in the Central African Republic. (Vasily Maximov, AFP)

Photographs of Russian journalists (L-R) Alexander Rastorguyev, Kirill Radchenko and Orkhan Dzhemal, who were recently killed in the Central African Republic. (Vasily Maximov, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Three Russian journalists killed in the Central African Republic, and reported to be probing a private Russian army there, were shot dead at a roadblock by a nine-man group, the government said Wednesday.

In a statement on national television, government spokesperson Ange Maxime Kazagui said the nine "wore headscarves" and did not speak in French or Sango, two languages that are nationally used in the Central African Republic.

One of the journalists violently opposed the armed men, who wanted to steal their equipment, Kazagui said.

One of the journalists died instantly and the two others died of their wounds, he said.

* Sign up to News24's top Africa news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO THE HELLO AFRICA NEWSLETTER

FOLLOW News24 Africaon Twitter and Facebook

These details come from their driver, who was wounded but survived, he added.

The three are Kirill Radchenko, Alexander Rastorguyev and Orkhan Dzhemal, the Russian foreign minister confirmed earlier.

A Russian investigative media organisation said the trio had been working with it in a probe into the so-called Wagner Group - described as Moscow's shadow army in hotspots such as Syria and Ukraine.

"On Friday, July 27 (they) flew to the Central African Republic to shoot material on the activities of PMC Wagner in the country as part of a joint project with the Investigations Management Centre," the centre wrote on its Facebook page late on Tuesday.

The Investigations Management Centre is a media project launched by exiled former oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who spent a decade in jail in Russia after falling foul of the Kremlin and now lives in Britain.

Analysts say Moscow uses Wagner, a private company, in order to play down military activity in countries such as Syria and Ukraine and discount casualties.

An investigation into the incident has been opened by Central African Republic and Russian federal authorities and the UN peacekeeping mission, MINUSCA.

Road danger

The killings took place on Monday north of the central town of Sibut, located on the main highway between Kaga Bandora and the capital Bangui, a MINUSCA source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The trio had arrived in Sibut from Bangui earlier on Monday.

They then set out for Dekoa, north of Sibut, at 17:45, even though they had been advised not to venture out on the road so late, the source said.

A journalist who was investigating Wagner's activities in Syria in April died after falling from the balcony of his fifth-floor flat in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg.

But Kazagui said it was "very plausible" that the three journalists had been killed by "a roadblock team who belong to an armed group".

"They took risks that, in my view, were badly underestimated."

Roadblocks are a notorious form of revenue-raising for the militia groups which control most of the Central African Republic.

On Wednesday, Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said neither the journalists themselves nor those who were backing their trip had told Russian authorities they would be in the country.

"They declared tourism as the purpose of their trip," she told the state channel Russia24 - an account that was supported by Kazagui.

"The process of identification has been complicated by the fact that the dead Russians were not carrying their passports on them," she added.

Historically the major international player in Central African Republic has been France.

However, Russia has taken on an official role since December last year, when it was authorised by the UN to provide the armed forces with weapons and training.

Read more on:    un  |  russia  |  central african republic  |  central africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.