Russian mercenaries in Sudan: Human rights organization accuses Russia of hypocrisy
A call for credible measures against mercenaries (Press release)
The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) accuses Russia's government of hypocrisy regarding the question whether Russian mercenaries are involved in armed conflicts in Africa. In a recent public debate, Vassily Nebenzia, Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Security Council, claimed that Russia will not allow mercenaries to fight in Africa. "According to eyewitness reports, however, Russian mercenaries were also involved in the bloody crackdown on riots in the Sudanese capital Khartoum in January 2019," criticized Ulrich Delius, the STP's director. Thus, the human rights activist demanded more transparency regarding the Russian security company Wagner. Their mercenaries are said to be involved in the escalation of violence in Sudan.
The Wagner group, which recruits former Russian security forces as mercenaries, is officially registered in Argentina but is known for its close relations with the Kremlin. Thus, the mercenaries were already sent to eastern Ukraine, to Russian-occupied Crimea, and to the Central African Republic in order to represent Russian interests. According to Ukrainian security officials, 149 Wagner mercenaries were flown to Khartoum in a Russian Air Force plane. More than 40 people have lost their lives in the violent crackdown on peaceful protests in the Sudanese capital since December 19, 2018.
In November 2018, the spokesman of the Russian Embassy in Khartoum had publicly denied any involvement of Russian mercenaries in Sudan. In January 2019, when the allegations were substantiated by photos from the Sudanese capital, the Russian Foreign Ministry had to admit that Russian mercenaries were involved in the training of Sudanese security forces. Even so, the Sudanese Interior Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman denies that they were actively involved in the crackdowns.
In a UN Security Council debate on Monday, Ambassador Nebenzia stated that mercenaries are often deployed when foreign powers try to interfere with the internal affairs of sovereign states in order to forcefully change the regime. "Russia's attempts at justification are cynical and inappropriate. The peaceful demonstrations that have been going on in Sudan for more than six weeks are not controlled by foreign countries," Delius emphasized. "The protesters, mostly young people, are against another term in office for incumbent President Omar Hassan al Bashir. After 29 years of terror and mismanagement by Bashir, they are hoping for democratic change."
Headerimage: gordonfoto via Flickr.