Relatives of journalists killed in CAR speak out against memorial sponsored by oligarch Evgeny Prigozhin

Weeks after Kremlin-linked oligarch Evgeny Prigozhin offered to finance the construction of a monument at the site where Russian journalists Alexander Rastorguyev, Orkhan Dzhemal, and Kirill Radchenko were murdered in the Central African Republic (CAR) in 2018, the journalists’ family members have spoken out against the memorial.

According to the independent television network TV Rain, the journalists’ relatives have written a letter opposing the memorial to Russian President Vladimir Putin, CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadéra, and Russian Investigative Committee Chairman Alexander Bastrykin.

In the letter (made available to TV Rain), they described the oligarch’s proposal as “a mockery of the memory of the dead and the feelings of their loved ones.”

“We have well-founded fears that the investigation is being influenced by the same persons who took part in the murder, but both countries’ investigators don’t dare to investigate the crime, whose possible suspects are hiding being the backs of politicians. It’s with exactly this circumstance that we explain the slow and ineffective investigation of the crime in both Russia and in the CAR, and the lack of any cooperation in the case with investigators from Germany.”

The family members added that so long as the murderers haven’t been convicted, “a monument in this place will be a monument to the murder, the murderers, and Prigozhin himself.”

Documentary filmmaker Alexander Rastorguyev, journalist Orkhan Dzhemal, and cameraman Kirill Radchenko were murdered in the CAR in July 2018. They had travelled there to film a documentary about Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group, a private military company linked to Evgeny Prigozhin.

According to the Russia’s Investigative Committee, the Russian nationals were killed by locals in the CAR during an armed robbery. However, the Dossier Center — an investigative-journalism nonprofit founded by former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky— has argued that the evidence in the case doesn’t support claims of robbery. According to the Dossier Center, the attack on the Russian journalists appeared to be professionally planned and attempts to say the murder began as an armed robbery stem from a concerted cover-up on the part of sources controlled by Prigozhin himself.

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