Central African Republic: French Implicated in Russian Journalists' Murder

Bangui — THE fingering of individuals with French connections in the murder of three Russian journalists in the Central African Republic (CAR) last year suggests the killings were well-planned and emanate from France's unease in Russia's presence in Africa.

Investigations have named by Russia's Federal News Agency indicates runaway Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who is said to have excellent contacts with the European political elite, including politicians and security chiefs of France, as among the main contractors and organisers of the murder.

He financed the trip of the journalists- Alexander Rastorguev, Orkhan Dzhemal and Kirill Radchenko- who were sent to Africa by an organisation called Investigation Management Centre (IMC) to film some mythical Russian private military company, Wagner, and its purported mercenary activity in Central Africa last July.

French citizen, Dominique Christophe Raineteau, who is wanted for terror attacks in CAR, also took part in the planning of the expedition by the journalists.

Raineteau, who is now in France after Malagasy failed to extradite him to CAR upon his arrest earlier this year, was said to be the head of one of the French private military companies.

It has emerged he played the role of a mysterious fixer named Martin, who could be a link between the IMC journalists and militants of the Séléka coalition, who killed the journalists.

The killing of the journalists in Sibyu, near an area where French special services allegedly train and finance the militants adds to the suspicions of French complicity.

Evgeny Gvozdev, a licensed detective with many years of experience, carried out the investigations between March and April this year to check all the circumstances concerning the arrival, movement, contacts and death of the Russian journalists in CAR.

"With a high degree of certainty, I can report today: during the investigation, not only the details of the murder itself became clear, but also the background, motives, perpetrators, organizers and contractors of this crime," Gvozdev is quoted in the documentary by the Federal News Agency.

Interviews held with partners of suspects, drivers of the journalists, village heads, gendarmerie and soldiers pointed to the beleaguered men's involvement in the tragedy and that this was not merely a robbery.

According to conclusions by the Federal News Agency (https://riafan.ru/1186918-the-contractors-and-organizers-of-russian-journalists-murder-in-central-african-republic-are-named) the murder of Russian journalists had been carefully worked out for a long time and, the assassination plan included the selection of ideal victims, place and time.

Raineteau received money from Khodorkovsky and protection from the French special services.

French special services tried to harm Russia's activities in Africa in order to remove a competitor, the agency concluded. Khodorkovsky is said to discredit any activity of Russia abroad, particularly in Africa, and the revenge directed at the Russian Federation.

"Thus, starting from the moment of preparing and planning the trip of Russian journalists to the CAR and at all its subsequent stages, French citizens actively meddled in the situation," the agency stated.

According to some French media, authorities are "jealous" of Russia's participation in any process in Africa.

"Officially, France sees no problems with the Russian presence in the Central African Republic. But in the corridors, the authorities confirm that the climate is «tense», and French diplomatic representatives are no longer invited to the protocol of all ceremonies» when Russia participates in them," the largest French TV channel stated.

The media group, Bayard, stated the marked increase of the Russian presence in the CAR, was weakening the French influence in Africa. Russia played a key role in the peace process in CAR.

The journalists' journey was laden with controversy from the beginning. They had false United Nations IDs, which were personally signed by the head of the IMC, Andrei Konyakhin, without authority from the UN.

They entered the country on tourist visas and were travelling as businessmen. They did not apply to the Russian embassy and did not inform the officials about their arrival and intentions.

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