Russia: Probe indicates Russian journalists killed in armed robbery in CAR
Exactly one year has passed since the deaths of Orkhan Dzhemal, Alexander Rastorgeuv and Kirill Radchenko
On the anniversary of the murder in the Central African Republic of three Russian journalists, Orkhan Dzhemal, Alexander Rastorguev and Kirill Radchenko, the Dossier Investigation Center published a final report on the circumstances of this crime.
According to documents obtained by the Dossier from various sources – in particular, personal correspondence on the Internet, mobile phone bills and testimonies – the journalists have been monitored since their arrival in the CAR. It was attended by people associated with the leadership of Wagner’s private military company, which was created by a St. Petersburg businessman close to Vladimir Putin, Yevgeny Prigozhin. In addition, according to investigators, it was the employees of one of the Prigozhin structures who threw into the media the version about the murder of journalists as a result of a banal robbery..
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Report; Dossier: The murder of Russian journalists in the CAR was planned
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The Dossier Center cites evidence that the victims were deliberately trapped. Investigators have identified the circle of persons who, in their opinion, to one degree or another may be involved in the murder.
Correspondent of the Russian news agency FAN, owned by businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin. It was Romanovsky who provided the dead journalists with the contact of his old acquaintance, a certain Dutch UN employee named Martin, who supposedly knows Africa well and can become their guide in the Central African Republic. The Dossier Center investigators found that:
– no Martin has ever existed;
– Romanovsky asked journalists not to communicate with Martin via voice communication, as in the city of Bambari, where he was allegedly located, there was a bad connection. However, according to the billing of Martin’s mobile number, his phone did not leave the borders of the CAR capital Bangui, which is 376 kilometers from Bambari;
– Martin’s phone number was registered to a certain Erica Mustermann, whose name and photo have been used for a number of years as a template for an identity card in Germany. This number was first activated on July 5, 2018 – less than a month before the murder of Dzhemal, Rastorguev and Radchenko. By this time, Romanovsky had already been informed that Russian journalists were going to shoot an investigation film about the activities of PMC Wagner in the CAR;
– a few hours after the information about the deaths of journalists appeared in the Russian media, Romanovsky entered a Google search query article 105 – murder. He is interested in the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, although the crime is completely on the territory of another country and, according to the public assumptions of the same Romanovsky, was committed by local bandits. Also, a RIA FAN correspondent searches the Internet for information on how to completely clear the memory of his phone;
– a day after the murder, Romanovsky enters the search query tacheles berlin – this is the Tacheles art house in Berlin. He also studies information about him on the Wikipedia website. Later, it was the Tacheles house of arts that he would indicate as the place of his acquaintance with Martin;
– On August 3, Romanovsky deletes correspondence with 13 VK users.
The driver, who was hired by the victims in the CAR, took them to the scene of the murder, while taking the journalists along an unplanned path, and who, in an incomprehensible way, was able to escape from a group of armed bandits. The Dossier Center has determined that:
– the driver’s contacts were provided to journalists by the same fake Martin via WhatsApp;
– On July 28, on the day of the arrival of Dzhemal, Rastorguev and Radchenko to the capital of the CAR, Bienvenue Duvokama began to use a new telephone set and a new SIM card registered under the fictitious name Toma Mariana.
An employee of the local gendarmerie, who was trained by Russian military instructors, and after the murder of journalists was promoted. The Dossier Center has established that:
– on the day of the arrival of Russian journalists in the CAR, Kotofio repeatedly called their driver. Subsequently, the driver claimed that he had known the gendarme for a long time and just often talked with him on personal matters. However, according to billing, the number of calls to the gendarme made from all SIM cards belonging to Bienvenue Duvokam from July 1 to July 20, 2018 is zero. The greatest number of times they called on the day of arrival of Russian journalists – thirty-six, and on the day of their murder – twelve;
– during the entire stay of Dzhemal, Rastorguev and Radchenko in the CAR, Emmanuel Kotofio was in close proximity to them and, with a high degree of probability, was spying on them. Metadata from Kotofio’s telephone conversations confirm that on July 28 and 29 he was in the center of Bangui, next to the National Hotel, where the killed journalists settled, and on July 30, he was in close proximity to the place of their murder near the city of Sibu. In addition, several soldiers of the CAR army saw Kotofio’s car, which followed the path of the vehicles of the victims..
A former officer of the Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia living in St. Petersburg, now an employee of the Wagner PMC, who, according to the Dossier, was assigned a personal number M-5661 and who is listed in the staff list as an instructor for external surveillance, counter-surveillance, recruitment, and intelligence work. The investigators found that:
– in July – August 2018, including the day of the killing of journalists, Sotov was in the Central African Republic. This is evidenced by the salary statements of the companies M-Finance and M Invest, which are associated with Yevgeny Prigozhin;
– during the days of the stay of those killed in the CAR, Sotov was in constant telephone communication with the gendarme Emmanuel Kotofio.
Russian military instructor, security advisor to the CAR president. As reported by the Fontanka edition, before that Zakharov was an employee of the security service of one of the St. Petersburg business structures associated with Yevgeny Prigozhin. The dossier established that:
– Immediately after the murder, Zakharov sanctioned the dissemination in both Russian and Central African media of the version of the murder of Russian journalists as a result of robbery by members of a militant group controlled by Islamic field commander Abdullay Hissen. In the correspondence between employees of one of the Prigozhin structures, it is even said about their number – ten people. By that time, even the local African police did not know about the circumstances of the crime – the escaped driver Bienvenue Duvokama had not yet been interrogated. At the same time, the head of the so-called back office of Prigozhin’s African structures in St. Petersburg, Pyotr Bychkov, writes in a working chat that the mention of the Islamic group still needs to be coordinated with the boss – this is how the employees call Yevgeny Prigozhin among themselves.
– On July 31, employees of the back office, having coordinated everything with Zakharov, are developing a plan to fill social networks with discussions of the murder and all kinds of versions, including delusional ones. At the same time, in their correspondence, they separately emphasize that information that the victims filmed a film about PMC Wagner cannot be left in any way. I think we can say that they were driving to shoot a report on the success of the Russian instructors, and they were unlucky on the road, ” writes one of Prigozhin’s subordinates. He proposes to end this story with a statement from one of the high-ranking politicians condemning the incident and apologizing to the relatives of the victims..
- Orkhan Dzhemal, Alexander Rastorguev and Kirill Radchenko were shot dead by unknown assailants in the Central African Republic on July 30, 2018. They filmed for the Investigation Management Center, sponsored by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a film about the activities of Russian mercenaries from Wagner’s private military company. Petersburg businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is close to Putin, is called her sponsor by the media..
- PMC Wagner is a Russian unofficial military unit that does not appear on the balance of military departments and in the register of legal entities, however, its fighters, according to investigative journalism, took part in ground operations in Syria and in the war in eastern Ukraine.
- The Investigative Committee of Russia considers the main version of the death of journalists to be murder for the purpose of robbery by unknown Arabic-speaking bandits. The Russian Foreign Ministry adheres to the same version. According to the ministry, the Russians were attacked by unknown persons for the purpose of robbery and were killed while trying to resist. At the same time, there is not a single proof of robbery. Apart from mobile phones, they did not take anything from the killed, although they had much more valuable laptops, video cameras and cameras with them. Investigations in Russia have practically not been conducted throughout the year. The UK did not question any of those whom the relatives of the victims and independent investigators point to as possible accomplices in the murder..
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