Reports about the presence of Russian instructors in the Central African Republic are not sensational, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday, noting that this information had been made public.
Zakharova commented on her Facebook page about some media reports that three Russian journalists killed in the CAR had conducted an investigation into the activity of private military companies.
"I hear and read this nonsense about private military companies in the CAR," Zakharova said. "There is no sensation about the presence of Russian instructors in the CAR, no one had hidden anything."
The diplomat recalled that in March the Foreign Ministry posted a comment saying that five military and 170 Russian civilian instructors had been sent to the CAR to train the republic’s military and the UN Security Council’s respective committee had been notified about that.
"Foreign crews made films about the instructors. They just informed the CAR’s authorities about their wish to make footage and they were offered that possibility," she said.
"The killed Russian journalists, judging by the scene where the bodies were found, had been heading not where the instructors work. Moreover, taking into account information provided by the locals, they ignored the warnings that they were leaving the area controlled by local law enforcement bodies," Zakharova said.
"What they were really doing in the CAR, what were their goals and tasks - this issue remains open. I have such an impression that amid this information chaos the truth will again take back seat," the diplomat said.
The Russian Embassy in the Central African Republic said on Tuesday three men were killed near the city of Sibut (300 kilometers north of the CAR’s capital city Bangui) on July 30. The Russian Foreign Ministry said later the men had press cards featuring the names Kirill Radchenko, Alexander Rastorguyev and Okhran Dzhemal.
The Russian Investigative Committee has launched a criminal investigation into the murder. The United Nations is ready to provide assistance to the CAR authorities in investigating the Russian journalists’ death.
Editor-in-chief of the Ekho Moskvy radio station Alexei Venediktov earlier told TASS that journalist Okhran Dzhemal, camera man Kirill Radchenko and director Alexander Rastorguyev had been working on a documentary in the CAR. The relatives of the dead journalists will receive all the necessary assistance, Zakharova said.