Russian TV crew killed investigating mercenaries
A Russian television crew has been killed in the Central African Republic. The three reporters had travelled to the war-ravaged country to shoot a documentary about a group of Russian mercenaries known as the Wagner group for an online news organisation owned by exiled oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Government-critical Russian media don't believe the official statements issued on the incident.
The tale of ten Arabs wearing turbans
Novaya Gazeta sees the information now being spread as a diversionary manoeuvre:
“All the Russian media are saying: 'Russian journalists killed by Arabs' or 'It was ten Arabs wearing turbans'. But why are they quoting the words of a person [the driver, who survived] who apparently lured the team into a trap? It's odd to use someone who is suspected of involvement in a crime as a source. ... Whether this was a crime committed by bandits in a country where a life is worth less than in Donbass, or whether our 'military advisers' gave the okay for it would be easy to find out. If the 'Wagner people', infuriated by the fact that they are under suspicion, demand that the driver be handed over to them, ask for names and find the murderers, that's one thing. But when the Russian investigative authorities are looking for 'ten Arabs wearing turbans' that's quite another.”
Don't mess with mercenaries
Anton Orech of Echo of Moscow suspects that the killings were a brutal way of stopping the research in Africa:
“The team wanted to shoot a film about people who officially don't exist. About people who operate in secret, whose existence is denied by our government and about whom Russian authorities even now only give evasive answers. The murdered journalists wanted to shoot a film about people who are used to killing, and who have no qualms about taking money to kill people - no matter who it is or where. And the fact is that in places like this you can kill people with impunity. No one finds the slightest trace and nothing can be proved. Everyone who had an interest in the affair knew that a Russian film team was arriving. ... Of course I have no concrete proof, but no one can prevent me from entertaining doubts.”