The organization of the Russian presence in the Central African Republic has evolved, after questions linked to the death of the founder of the Wagner group Evgeni Prigojine at the end of August. A new executive has arrived in Bangui to oversee activities in the country, which range from military training to mining and forestry exploitation. The person responsible does not come from the mercenary group but from external intelligence services, proof of a desire for control of operations by the Russian state. Based at the embassy, his identity and career path were traced in a journalistic investigation.
According to investigations by the All Eyes on Wagner group and radio free Europe, Russia’s new strongman in the Central African Republic is called Denis Pavlov. Having passed through the Russian representations at UNESCO in Paris, the United Nations in Geneva, and the European Union in Brussels, he joined the embassy in Bangui in September. This follows the visit of Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yunus Bek Yevkurov to President Faustin Archange Touadéra, after the death of the leader of the paramilitary group Wagner Evgueni Prigojine.
According to several sources, the Central African head of state would have liked on this occasion to maintain the Vitali Perfilev-Dimitri Sityi duo, who had become close to the presidential circle. But as part of the takeover of Wagner’s activities, the Kremlin would have chosen to replace the first with a new head.
Aged 46, Denis Pavlov is not a simple diplomat according to the investigation: he is above all an agent of the SVR, the foreign intelligence services.
If Vitali Perfilev, in charge of security issues, would have left Bangui, the manager of the economic and informational part of Wagner Dimitri Sityi is still there: he was seen at the presidency at the official lunch marking December 1, the holiday of the proclamation of the Republic. However, he no longer officially heads the Russian house since the arrival of Nafisa Kiryanova, also in September.
This article is originally published on .rfi.fr