UN Report Says Russia Carries Out Abuses In Central African Republic.

Russian military instructors and Central African Republic (CAR) forces they are supporting have carried out indiscriminate killings, used excessive force against civilians, and looted in the war-torn country, according to a UN report.
Moscow denied allegations in the annual expert sanctions report, which was recently submitted to the UN Security Council and obtained by several news agencies on June 28. The CAR army, known as FACA, and Russian instructors carried out abuses including “cases of excessive use of force, indiscriminate killings, the occupation of schools and looting on a large scale, including of humanitarian organizations," the report detailed. The experts received "numerous reports of cases of indiscriminate killings against unarmed civilians by Russian instructors," the report said. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on June 28 that the accusations in the UN report were “yet another lie." "Russian military advisers could not and did not take part in the killings or robberies,” he said. Russian advisers, UN peacekeepers, and Rwandan special forces help President Faustin Archange Touadera combat rebel groups linked to former President Francois Bozize in the resource-rich country’s civil war. Moscow says it has only sent 532 instructors to the CAR and they do not engage in combat. But the report cited testimonies noting “the active participation of Russian instructors in combat operations on the ground, many having observed that they often led rather than followed FACA." In addition, “multiple sources” estimated Russia had a much higher number of instructors, ranging from 800 to 2,100, the report said. That estimate does not include 600 additional Russian instructors whose deployment was announced to the UN in May by the CAR. The experts also cited testimonies that the instructors included people who said they were from Libya, Syria, and elsewhere. Last week, the UN's envoy to CAR as well as diplomats from the United States and France accused the nation's security forces and their Russian paramilitary allies of wide-ranging human rights abuses. Western powers say the Russian instructors are in fact mercenaries from the Vagner Group, a Russian military contractor with ties to the government. Russia has significantly increased its presence and influence in the poor but resource-rich African country, where Russian national Valery Zakharov serves as national-security adviser to President Touadera. The CAR government has granted gold and diamond mining permits to Russian companies suspected of having links to Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the man believed to be the head of the Vagner Group. The coordinator of the Russian instructors told the UN panel they were all Russians and recruited from an association of primarily former military officers. He said the instructors had not been hired by “a private company,” contrary to reports by a UN human rights commission group and Western allegations.


Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters

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