DW: UN suspects Russian mercenaries of crimes in the CAR
The Russian military in the CAR kill and rob civilians, reports International French Radio, citing eyewitnesses. According to sources, there are from 800 to 2200 Russian mercenaries in this country.
DW – Sergey Romashenko – May 05, 2021
Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic (CAR), fighting on the side of government troops, rob and kill civilians and commit gang rapes, according to an investigation published on Monday, May 3, by French International Radio (RFI).
The investigation, based on eyewitness accounts and documents of the UN working group on the use of mercenaries, cites at least one hundred cases of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed by the CAR army together with Russian allies or only one Russian, in the period from January 1 to mid-April 2021. The documents mention 26 extrajudicial executions, 5 rapes, as well as 27 cases of arbitrary arrest and imprisonment.
For example, after the CAR army, with the support of Russian mercenaries, recaptured the city of Bambari from the rebels in December 2020, the Russians broke into a mosque where both militants and civilians, including women and children, were hiding. Upon entering the mosque, the Russians, according to an eyewitness, began to “shoot in all directions”, and then executed three young people without trial. In addition, after the capture of Bambari, mass arbitrary arrests began in the city. Those arrested are missing, their relatives told RFI.
UN concerned about use of mercenaries in CAR
On March 31, the UN working group on the use of mercenaries for the first time officially expressed concern about the widespread use of private military companies by the CAR authorities. The group’s press release mentions three Russian organizations: the Wagner PMC, Sewa Security Services, considered a branch of the Wagner PMC in the republic, as well as Lobaye Invest SARLU (formally a mining company founded in the CAR in 2017).
In total, between 800 and 2,000 Russian mercenaries have been involved in the civil war in the CAR, which has been going on since 2012, RFI sources say. The Russian embassy in the country admits that there are 535 Russian instructors in the CAR who, according to diplomats, do not take a direct part in hostilities, except when they are attacked.
However, it was the Russians, as many in the republic believe, who played a decisive role in the counteroffensive of the government army in 2020-2021, which made it possible to recapture most of the country’s major cities from the rebels, RFI notes.