Propaganda via Cinema: Russian mercenaries cynically presented as heroes

Newly built Russian film is glorifying “Russian gladiators” in the Central African Republic who are accused by the UN of robbery, rape and murder. The article was prepared for publication by volunteers of the Res Publica – Civic Resilience Center.

On May 15, 2021 in in Bangi, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), was presented a newly built Russian combat film “Tourist”. The film tells the story of a Russian officer called “Tourist” who comes to CAR as a instructor to train the CAR Armed Forces (FACA). Main hero in this movie gets into the action of the civil war where he shows big courage and honour. The film portrays Russian “instructors” as honourable soldiers, demonstrating humanity even in hopeless situations.


The opposite picture is drawn in the report published by the UN on 31 March 2021 regarding serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law done by Russian soldiers in CAR. Three Russian-affiliated military companies are named in this report: Wagner Group, Sewa Security Services (Wagner Branch) and Lobaye Invest SARLU. Report includes mass executions, lynch trials, arbitrary detentions, torture during interrogation, disappearances, and mass rape attacks.


The movie “Tourist” is highly controversial even in Russia itself. There were following comments available in one of the cinema/theater forums (kino-teatr.ru):

„Fear God, gentlemen, the “creators” of this film’s “masterpiece”: who are they “Russian gladiators”, your “tourists”? Mercenaries – yes, killers – of course, war criminals – sure! So I just don’t understand what moral and ethical values you were guided by when you agreed to build this low-quality toxic political propaganda … “.

Central African Republic / dw.com


According to the French news agency RFI (Radio France Internationale and their sources there are between 800 and 2,000 Russian mercenaries present in CAR. Moscow meanwhile confirms only 535 “instructors” officially working in the CAR, who are allegedly not involved in military actions, except when they are under attack.


CAR and Russian friendship


CAR’s cooperation with Russia dates back to the Soviet era (1960-1970). It was renewed in 2017 when Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with President Touadera in Sochi.

Just two months after the meeting, despite the arms embargo, Russia received exemption from the United Nations to supply CAR with lethal weapons – Kalashnikov rifles, pistols, launchers and ground-to-air missiles.

Russian mercenaries, along with local security units, guarding President Touadera / dw.com


In May 2018, Touadera went to Russia to meet with Putin again. During this meeting two leaders agreed on mining licenses for Russian companies in exchange for military support in gold, diamonds and uranium rich regions.

Touadera and Putin in Sochi / dw.com


Not long after in July 2018 Putin sent to CAR first Wagner military advisers and mercenaries to ensure the security of Russian companies, train CAR soldiers and protect top government officials.


Sources:

  • https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=26961&LangID=E

  • https://riafan.ru/1445543-premera-filma-turist-vyzvala-volnu-blagodarnosti-rossii-v-socsetyakh-car

  • https://www.tv3.lt/naujiena/uzsienis/sunkus-kaltinimai-rusu-samdiniams-plesimai-prievartavimai-ir-zudymai-n1094676

  • https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/30/russian-mercenaries-accused-of-human-rights-abuses-in-car-un-group-experts-wagner-group-violence-election

  • https://www.kino-teatr.ru/kino/movie/ros/146760/forum/

Cover illustration: Picture from the movie „Turist“ / riafan.ru





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