On January 10th, MSM started publishing reports claiming that two Russians indicted in the Robert Mueller probe were also allegedly linked to the murder of the three Russian “journalists” in the Central African Republic in July 2018.
great catch by @shustry: one of the men allegedly involved in the killing of the 3 Russian journos in CAR last year was also indicted by Mueller, as part of the Prigozhin indictment in Feb. 2018 https://t.co/syKxKLVkDH pic.twitter.com/SJOQwoZ69B
— Mike Eckel (@Mike_Eckel) January 11, 2019
The Time article reported that exiled tycoon Mikhail Khodorovsky himself gave a press briefing in London on January 10th and alleged that “several Russians linked to Evgeny Prigozhin, a powerful ally of President Vladimir Putin, conspired to lure the murdered journalists into an ambush on a country road in the Central African Republic, where they were shot dead on the night of July 30. Among those implicated in the investigation was Mikhail Burchik, who was indicted alongside Prigozhin last year for allegedly interfering in the U.S. presidential elections.”
While the Radio Free Liberty report claimed that private investigators, hired by Khodorovsky held a press briefing on January 10th in London. The Dossier project allegedly tied private military contractors from the so-called Wagner group, which MSM usually ties to Prigozhin and CAR law enforcement officials, who all took part in the murder of the journalists.
The differing versions may be a result of one outlet posting a pre-written text. That comes down to speculation. Furthermore, Time reported that the outlet had not confirmed any of the information in its report.
Regardless, the official version by the Russian Foreign Ministry is that the three journalists were killed in a robbery that had gone wrong. Furthermore, the three journalists, initially hired by Khodorovsky had no press credentials upon entering the Central African Republic. CAR officials said the perpetrators were Arabic speakers “in turbans.”
Time reported that a spokeswoman for the ministry declined to comment on Khodorkovsky’s allegations in detail, saying only that Russian law enforcement agencies are still working on the case of the murdered journalists. “The investigation is ongoing,” she said.
Radio Free Liberty cited Dossier researcher Yekaterina Kretova, who said that “taking into consideration the evidence contradicting the official version of the crime and the evidence indicating the involvement of mercenaries of the Vagner group and also considering the intentional efforts to obstruct our independent investigation, our goal is — with the support of the United Nations — to get the C.A.R. and Russia to conduct an independent and thorough investigation of these murders.”
Furthermore, the outlet’s Russian-language network Current Time TV reportedly had a skype interview with Khodorovsky on January 10th. According to him “the operation was well-planned and was aimed at extracting the information from journalists on what they had learned on the arms trade and the use of private military companies in the region.”
“The Dossier investigators say they were told by two C.A.R. soldiers who were manning a checkpoint in the city of Sibu that a vehicle with three Caucasian men and two Africans passed through the checkpoint less than 20 minutes after the journalists passed through and less than an hour before they were killed,” Radio Free Liberty reporting.
One of the Africans was identified as police officer Emmanuel Touaguende Kotofio who was allegedly in contact with Prigozhin’s presumed employees.
“Kotofio organized and carried out monitoring of the [journalists] and, at the least, was present at the time and place of the murder,” the investigators concluded.
“According to purported mobile-phone records that the Dossier investigators presented, Kotofio was in contact 98 times in July and August with Aleksandr Sotov, who was allegedly a security instructor with M-Finans, a Russian company tied to Prigozhin’s firm, M-Invest. Sotov allegedly registered his C.A.R. mobile phone using a U.S. passport with the name Barret Travis Hammond,” Radio Free Liberty reported.
But the alleged connections don’t end there:
“Sotov, according to the Dossier probe, was in turn in contact by telephone more than 100 times with Valery Zakharov, a former St. Petersburg police investigator who has also been connected with the Vagner security group. Dossier also presented a purported document indicating that the same Valery Zakharov works as “a security adviser to the president of the C.A.R.””
The investigators also allegedly found evidence indicating that Sotov worked for the fabled Wagner group. That evidence was not provided or commented on further. Prigozhin has also repeatedly said that he has no connection to the Wagner group, which has essentially turned into a meme, perpetuated by MSM.
Nevertheless, the Wagner group and Prigozhin were sanctioned by the US Treasury Department in 2017.
Essentially, MSM is propelling a narrative that tries to link Russian activity in the CAR to the Russian witch hunt in the face of the Mueller probe. This may potentially be an attempt to pressure Trump to start opposing Russia and China in Africa more actively.
It is a not-very-well-hidden attempt to impact US internal politics.
In its essence, the reports and Khodorovsky’s alleged “investigation” are attempting to link indictments based on no evidence, with conclusions of investigations, also based on no evidence. It would be no surprise if it were successful, since Prigozhin has been a focus of numerous reports claiming that he is the “chef” of the “evil mastermind” Putin.