At the same time, the most influential French media in Africa, RFI, published data on the use of private military companies by the authorities of the Central African Republic. We are talking about three Russian organizations - PMC Wagner and two of its branches - Sewa Security Services and Lobaye Invest SARLU. According to journalists, the Russian military in the CAR kill, rape, and rob local residents. The Russian embassy in the CAR called the released evidence "nothing more than speculation."
And we are talking about the participation of Russian mercenaries, who acted together with the government armed forces of the CAR, in mass executions without investigation and trial, arbitrary detention, torture during interrogations, disappearances, attacks on civilian objects - and this is only since December 2020.
Internal UN reports, according to journalists, confirm these accusations. Among them - 26 extrajudicial executions, 5 rapes, and 27 cases of arbitrary arrest and imprisonment.
They wanted to kill people
In mid-February 2021, government troops and their Russian allies entered Bambari, the center of Huaca prefecture (there are only 16 prefectures in the CAR), which was under the rule of the rebels. According to the witnesses, whom the journalists managed to find, the Russians played a decisive role in these battles.
"Fleeing from the onset of the Russians, the rebels ran into the mosque, where civilians were hiding. In the mosque, where there were women and children, Russians started shooting indiscriminately. They did not try to find out who was the rebel and who was the civilian. They wanted to kill people. Photos those taken after the hostilities also testify to the use of heavy weapons," eyewitnesses say.
According to other witnesses, on the same day, a similar scene was repeated in the city medical center at the entrance to the camp for displaced persons of the same name: Russian units were firing at the medical center.
After two days of fighting in Bambari, the bodies were collected on the territory of the mosque: about fifteen, according to the video. A witness who was present at the identification of these bodies assures that among them were children and old people who were victims of stray bullets.
Also, according to eyewitnesses, earlier Russian mercenaries at one of the checkpoints shot a truck with civilians. The checkpoint was not visible from afar, and the truck did not have enough time to stop, the Russians opened fire. Three civilians were killed and 15 injured. "None of the passengers were in military uniform. The tires and engine of the car were not damaged by the shooting. And the cabin, where the passengers were also, was fired upon."
After the liberation of Bambari from the rebels, sweeps began here, carried out, among other things, by Russian mercenaries.
“We were also bothered by the rebels. When we learned that the Russians were arriving, we thought it was good news. But when we see what they are doing today, we wonder if they have come to attack the rebels or us civilians,” one of the civilians says.
"The Russians set up a roadblock on the road at the entrance to Grimari. On my way back I took a bus there. They forced everyone to get out and searched everyone. The men were stripped. And if you have a small scar on your body, even from an accident or medical treatment, you will be suspected of being a rebel. And you are gone," says another local resident.
Tortured like an animal
Also at the disposal of journalists were evidence of cases of gang rape.
"Six men broke down the door in the house, and under the threat of weapons, three of them collectively raped a 24-year-old woman from 11 pm to 2 am," says one of the UN reports.
And this is far from the only such case. One of the rape victims said that trying to get home before curfew, she caught a taxi, but a car with men in military uniform stopped. The military turned out to be Russians, they took the girl to an unfamiliar place, where they raped her all night: "Five Russians, one after the other. They tortured me like an animal. I don't understand. I am the same person as they are. I thought the Russians are here for to help us."
An atmosphere of terror
Cases of robberies are also not uncommon. Russian mercenaries do not buy food, phones, motorcycles.
"When the Russians came, they took everything. They even kill pigs. They don't buy food. When they feel hungry, they kill animals that people breed. They pick up foam mattresses on which people sleep, and even plastic chairs. They are too many. robbed," one of the civilians remembers.
At the same time, the locals do not dare to complain and openly declare about the numerous crimes of the Russians, they say, they will be immediately accused of aiding the rebels.
"This is an atmosphere of terror. You cannot criticize the actions of the Russians ... in such a way that you are not perceived as an opponent of government policies or even an accomplice of armed groups. The authorities repeat that everything they (the Russians) do is good," the locals say.
But nevertheless, according to many in the republic, the Russians 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.