| 25 May 2024, Saturday |

Russians accused of Central African Republic abuses in U.N. report

According to a UN assessment reviewed by Reuters on Tuesday, Russian military instructors and Central African Republic (CAR) troops targeted people with disproportionate force, indiscriminate killings, school occupations, and large-scale looting.

Groups associated to the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) rebels are also accused of forced recruitment of youngsters, attacks on peacekeepers, sexual violence, and theft of relief organizations, according to the sanctions experts’ report to the United Nations Security Council.

Russia and France, which has 300 troops in the African country, have been fighting for influence in the 4.7 million-strong country rich in gold and diamonds. Hundreds of Russian military instructors were dispatched to arm and train government soldiers fighting insurgents.

“Russian military advisers could not and did not take part in the killings or robberies. This is yet another lie,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday in response to the accusations in the U.N. report.

CAR has been mired in violence since a coalition of mostly Muslim rebels known as Seleka seized power in March 2013.

In recent months the army – backed by U.N. peacekeepers, Russian and Rwandan troops – has been battling the CPC rebels seeking to overturn a Dec. 27 vote in which President Faustin-Archange Touadera was declared the winner.

CAR forces, known as FACA, and Russian instructors are accused of killing at least six civilians at a mosque during an operation against CPC rebels, according to the annual UN sanctions report.

“Despite the presence of people and without regard for the mosque’s religious aspect, FACA soldiers and Russian instructors attacked it. According to eyewitnesses, no attempt was taken to differentiate between civilians and fighters “Experts from the United Nations wrote.

According to the UN specialists, CAR military and Russian instructors allegedly plundered an aid organization and took goods worth $1,850, including kits for sexual violence victims.

According to Russia, there were 532 instructors in the Central African Republic as of April 18. “Multiple sources estimated that total to be substantially higher, ranging from 800 to 2,100,” the analysts stated, noting that the instructors dispatched included personnel from Libya, Syria, and other countries.

Top CAR and Russian officials informed UN specialists that they were aware of the allegations but denied them, claiming that it was in the rebels’ best interests to distribute false information.

  • Reuters