Already on the first day in Bangu, the capital of the Central African Republic, a group of reporters from the news channel CNN found that they were being shaded.
It later emerged that news channel CNN’s journalists were lurking in the Russian oligarch, known as “Putin’s chef.” Jevgeni Prigožinin employees.
This is evident from the research group Bellingat from a recent report, which goes through Prigožin’s long-running struggle against the independent media.
American A group of CNN reporters landed in Banguin for the first time in May 2019 to investigate Kremlin-related activities in the Central African Republic, Bellingcat report said.
The purpose of the group was to find out things specifically related to Prigožin, a Russian billionaire whose mercenaries were in Central Africa to train the country’s army, and whose company at the same time also had lucrative mining operations in the region.
CNN had previously reported extensively on Prigožin’s activities, including his connections to the Wagner mercenary company and the Internet Research Agency (IRA), known as the “troll factory” in St. Petersburg. CNN had also reported on the unsolved murders of three Russian investigative journalists in Central Africa in 2018. The journalists had been investigating the activities of Russian mercenaries in the region.
Read more about the murders of three Russian journalists in the Central African Republic from here.
Bellingcatin According to Prigožin, the men employed by Prigožin had planned in advance that the progress of the CNN group of reporters’ reportage journey would be overshadowed, monitored and described. There were also plans to blackmail CNN later in the alleged Russian media owned by Prigožin.
Bellingcat succeeded in obtaining a memorandum distributed to Russians employed by the oligarch in the Central African Republic. According to the memorandum, Prigožin’s subordinates were tasked with “monitoring journalists 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
The memorandum also listed details of the methods and tools used to shade CNN’s suppliers. The surveillance had to be uninterrupted and it had to be done in secret. Several different cameras were also used for surveillance, such as covert cameras disguised as pens.
According to the memorandum, some of the participants in the task had to dress so that they could also spend their time in hotels and restaurants.
Size During CNN’s reportage trip, there were indications that the group was being followed, CNN says in their own news.
On the first day of filming, two motorcyclists followed the group, but the motorcyclists dissolved from the scene as CNN reporters tried to approach them.
Later, two men who appeared as local reporters asked a CNN reporter Clarissa from Ward interview at a hotel in Bangui. Ward agreed, but it later emerged that the men were working for the Russians. An excerpt from the interview was later published in August 2019 on a news channel owned by Prigožin.
Observation and harassment of journalists only escalated on the CNN group’s second trip to the Central African Republic in June 2019. At the time, the group sought to visit the diamond mines where Prigožin has operations.
Reporters were photographed and accused by local police of counterfeit press cards. CNN’s group was followed by a car with several Caucasian people sitting on it. As journalist Ward tried to approach the car, it ran away, and several people in the car covered their faces.
Bellingcat says he managed to find out the identities of some of the men who followed the CNN group. According to the group, they work for Prigožin companies.
Read more on this from the International Investigative Journalism Network in Bellingcat.
Part the material produced by the Russian actors during the shading by CNN’s group of journalists ended up in a video that was released on the alleged RIA / FAN channel owned by Prigožin in August 2019.
Among other things, the video alleged that the CNN group has links to U.S. and British intelligence. The video also alleged that CNN would have paid Central African interviewees to lie about the Russians ’actions in the country. The video also contained secretly filmed material even from inside the hotel room of reporter Ward in Bangui.
Bellingcatin according to the CNN group, the surveillance, harassment and humiliation of the Prigozini men would not have been possible without the presence of Russian state soldiers in Central Africa.
According to Bellingat, CNN’s shading operation in the Central African Republic is an example of Prigožin’s long-standing harassment of independent media. This is because Bellingcat estimates that journalists are seen as a threat to Prigozini’s own actions and also to the interests of the Russian leadership.
According to Bellingcat, the practices include “a combination of illegal surveillance, private intimidation, public defamation” and “the publication of false information that could put journalists under attack from third parties”.