UPDATE: The Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed the identity of the killed Russians. These are journalists Orhan Dzemal, Kiril Radchenko and Aleksandr Rastorguev.
The bodies of three Russians with press cards have been found on a road 23 km from the town of Sibut in the Central African Republic (CAR), AFP news agency reported on July 31 citing sources close to the investigation.
According to the AFP report, the Russians “were killed by unidentified armed men.” Later some sources speculated, that two of the killed men had press cards of Russian newspaper Izvestia. However, the newspaper refuted these reports saying that no of its journalists is in the CAR.
According to an official Russian version, the Foreign Ministry is now probing to determine if those killed in the CAR were Russian citizens.
It’s interesting to note that the killing of 3 alleged Russians comes amid the increasing Russian presence in the CAR. In March, 5 Russian military servicemen, 170 civilian instructors were deployed in the CAR at the request of President Faustin-Archange Touadera.
Russia also sent a batch of small arms and ammunition to the CAR military. The supplies were provided on a no-cost basis and were approved by the UN Security Council.
Some Russian sources say that at least a part of the deployed “civilian instructors” is de-facto Russian private military contractors (PMCs) and the killed persons may have been somehow linked to them.
An unconfirmed reprot by the Russian opposition TV channel Dozhd says that the killed persons were Orhan Dzemal, Kiril Radchenko and Aleksandr Rastorguev. They were allegedly making a documentary about the so-called Vagner Private Military Company.