The growing evidence linking Russian mercenaries to abuses in Mali

By Paul Lorgerie

Mercenaries from the Wagner Group, a Russian private paramilitary organisation with close ties to the Kremlin, have been linked to summary executions, forced disappearances and arbitrary arrests in Mali, where they are officially presented as “instructors” for the West African country’s army in its war against jihadist insurgents. While the Malian authorities deny that their Russian allies take part in direct combat, numerous eyewitness accounts tell a very different story. Paul Lorgerie reports from Mali.

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The presence of Russian paramilitary mercenaries in Mali, where the authorities have been engaged in a ten-year conflict with jihadist insurgents, made headlines worldwide in early April after NGO Human Rights Watch reported their suspected involvement alongside the Malian army in the massacre of around 300 people in the town of Moura, in the centre of the country.