Russian Investigators: Robbers Killed Journalists in CAR
The three Russian investigative journalists who were killed in the Central African Republic (CAR) in 2018, died in a robbery attempt, a senior Russian investigator said Monday in an interview with the Kommersant business daily.
“The circumstances of the attack point to murder for the purpose of robbery,” Igor Krasnov, deputy chief of the Investigative Committee told the outlet, repeating what the Russian and the Central African authorities claimed back in 2018.
He added that the culprits were probably “residents of the Central African Republic or neighboring countries,” who have been systematically engaged in committing violent crimes in that region.
Orhan Dzhemal, Alexander Rastorguev, and Kirill Radchenko, were investigating connections between the Kremlin and the Wagner Group, a private military company linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian businessman and close associate of the Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The company, established as the League for the Defense of the Interests of Veterans of Local Wars and Armed Conflicts, fought on the Kremlin’s behalf in the Ukraine and in Syria and then went to the Central African Republic right after Moscow delivered light arms to the country’s security forces and sent them its military and civilian trainers.
Russian authorities, according to media, have been constantly denying any use of mercenaries abroad.
Soon after the murder, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, one of Putin’s most prominent opponents who had launched the Investigation Control Center (TsUR) that had hired the three reporters, expressed his scepticism over the Russian government’s version.
The Center issued a statement in August 2018 saying that “the guys had a huge experience in military journalism, and, of course, security problems were among the priority during the planning” of the report.
Khodorkovsky’s Dossier Center later conducted a thorough research and published the Final Report on the murder of the three journalists, concluding that the claim that “the deaths were the result of a ‘typical’ robbery is invalid.”
“Rastorguev, Dzhemal and Radchenko were put under surveillance and the murder was premeditated and carried out by professionals,” read the report.
However, Krasnov’s Committee last week blamed the deaths of the three journalists on the media outlet they were working for -- Investigation Control Center.
Khodorkovsky had also criticized the outlet over the “poor organization of the journalists’ trip to the Central African Republic,” and stopped funding it, the RFE reported back then.