World France slams Russian 'seizure of power' in CAfrica
Alexei Navalny, Via His Daughter, Dedicates Award to Political Prisoners in Belarus, Russia
Navalny was given the award for his "extraordinary courage and heroic efforts to sound the alarm about the Putin regime's grave violations of the human rights of the Russian people," the executive director of U.N. Watch said.Navalny's 20-year-old daughter, Daria Navalnaya, a student at Stanford University, accepted the award from the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy on her father's behalf.
France on Friday accused Russia of proceeding with a "seizure of power" in the Central African Republic, acknowledging that the CAR's cooperation with Russian "mercenaries" had prompted Paris to scale down its military support.
The French military earlier this month suspended budgetary aid and military cooperation with the CAR, accusing its government of being "complicit" in an anti-French disinformation campaign backed by Russia.
Alexei Navalny's Team Promises to Keep Working, Despite Pending Extremist Label From Russian Court
"Navalny's team will not stop its activities, they shouldn't hope for that," Ivan Zhdanov, a top Navalny associate who headed his foundation, said.This ruling would prevent people associated with the group from running for public office and could subject activists who worked for the group or anyone who otherwise supported the group to lengthy prison sentences.
The CAR has become a key area in the controversy over the role in Africa of the Wagner mercenary group which is allegedly run by the shadowy businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close confidant of President Vladimir Putin.
"In the Central African Republic, there is a form of a seizure of power, and in particular of military power, by Russian mercenaries," Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told BFM TV.
"We are fighting this and it has led us to take measures to withdraw a certain number of our military personnel."
He said Russian personnel were surrounding CAR President Faustin Archange Touadera and exploiting the wealth of the country.
One of the world's poorest countries, the CAR has been chronically unstable since it gained independence from France in 1960.
With Open Skies Treaty Dead, Russia Kills Post-Cold War 'Open Lands' Deal with U.S.
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has ordered the termination of the near 30-year "Open Lands" memorandum of understanding that allowed for the mutual easing of travel restrictions for U.S. and Russian personnel in respective host countries.An order terminating the "Open Lands" memorandum of understanding, signed by Washington and Moscow nearly three decades ago after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, appeared Thursday on Russia's official online legal portal. The document was dated June 9, 2021, and signed by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, who instructed the Foreign Ministry to "inform the American side of this decision.
In 2013, France launched a three-year military operation to halt sectarian violence after the then president, Francois Bozize, was ousted by predominantly Muslim rebel groups.
The CAR's closer relationship with Moscow dates back to 2018, when Russia sent "instructors" to help train its beleaguered armed forces and supplied small arms, gaining exemption from a UN weapons embargo.
Last December, under a bilateral cooperation agreement, the Kremlin sent several hundred personnel to shore up Touadera, who was threatened by a rebel offensive.
Russians also provide the president's personal protection and his powerful national security advisor, Valery Zakharov, is a Russian.
On May 30, in an interview with France's Journal du Dimanche newspaper, French President Emmanuel Macron said "anti-French talk has provided legitimacy to predatory Russian mercenaries at the apex of the state.
"Touadera... today is a hostage of the Wagner group," he said.
In July 2018, three Russian journalists researching Wagner's operations in CAR for an investigative media outlet -- Orkhan Dzhemal, Alexander Rastorguyev and Kirill Radchenko -- were killed in an ambush.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the exiled former oligarch and Kremlin critic, was funding their project and an investigation he backed linked their killing to Prigozhin.
But Russian investigators dismissed that report, insisting the trio died in a robbery.
Prigozhin, who has been sanctioned by both the EU and US, has dismissed accusations of a link to Wagner and denied any role in conflicts in Africa.
Why cyber gangs won't worry about US-Russia talks .
Plans to tackle ransomware hackers starts on shaky ground with a disagreement over who is responsible.Mr Biden says he and Mr Putin will start consultations "to begin to bring some order" after recent high-profile attacks by criminal gangs on critical US companies.