The head of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhinmet during the Russia-Africa summit in Saint Petersburg with Niger representativesa country where the military has carried out a coup d’état, as reported today by the digital newspaper Fontanka.
Amid concern for the fate of President Mohamed Bazoum, appeared unexpectedly in St. Petersburg the head of the mercenary organization.
The meeting took place in a hotel in the former tsarist capital on the sidelines of the summit, which Prigozhin would not have been officially invitedsays the source.
Prigozhin, who led a failed armed rebellion against the Kremlin on June 23-24, also held meetings with representatives of Mali and the Central African Republic (CAR).
The news is accompanied by a photo in which Prigozhin poses with an African delegate at a hotel he owns where many of the guests stay.
Wagner in Africa
Recently, Prigozhin assured at the new Wagner base in Belarus that soon the mercenaries will return to its natural space, Africaalthough he did not rule out a future return to the front in Ukraine.
The Group operates openly in at least four countries on the continent, normally propping up fragile regimes in exchange for minerals and other natural wealth.
To the RCA Hundreds of Wagner mercenaries have arrived in recent days to guarantee security during the constitutional referendum on Sunday.
As to malihuman rights organizations denounced last week atrocities committed by the Malian army and presumably by the Wagner mercenaries.
In SudanWagner has been accused by observers of being heavily involved in the thriving illegal gold trade.
In Libya, Wagner is close to Khalifa Haftar, a strongman based in the east of the country. Several hundred Wagner soldiers are deployed there to protect military bases and oil installations.
Media close to Wagner report that members of the African delegations highlighted the great effectiveness of the Russian mercenaries.
The group is often accused of atrocities and looting of natural resources in Africa, from interfere in local politics in numerous conflicts and to carry out anti-western disinformation campaignsespecially in French-speaking West Africa.
Created in the early 2010s, Wagner quickly established itself as an African proxy army for Russia, allowing Moscow to officially deny any involvement in its operations.
Summit attentive to the coup
The arrival of the African leaders at the summit in Russia coincided the day before with the outbreak of the military coup in Nigerwhose president, Mohamed Bazoum, has been deposed and is retained by the coup leaders.
“We strongly condemn the events in Niger and demand the immediate release of President Mohamed Bazoum and his family,” said Azali Assoumani of Comoros, acting chair of the African Union.
The coup has been condemned by the UN, the United States and the European Union, who also demanded the release of Bazoum, with whom the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, spoke.
Russia called on the “parties to the conflict” in Niger to refrain from the use of force and trusted in the “prompt settlement of this internal political crisis for the sake of the restoration of civil peace” in Niger. “It is necessary to restore the constitutional order,” said Sergei Lavrov, Russian foreign minister.
(With information from EFE and AFP)
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