The security forces of the Central African Republic (CAR) detained a French citizen this week and seized an impressive cache of weapons and intelligence equipment. According to the Ministry of the Interior, the suspect Mr. Quignolot had been in the CAR since 2013. He took part in the organisation of a coup in the CAR back at the time when François Bozizé was President. Allegedly he was involved in the training of militants in the CAR, and has been accused of supplying weapons to anti-government forces.
Quignolot is the second French citizen to be investigated by the Central African law enforcement agencies recently. Christophe Raineteau (also known as Martin) a French national, was arrested in Madagascar in February 2019. In the course of the subsequent investigation into his case by the CAR authorities, it emerged that he was an employee of the French secret services and an adviser to the former president of the CAR, François Bozizé; 11 charges were subsequently filed against him by the CAR authorities.
It appears that Quignolot was also a French agent carrying out instructions to orchestrate a campaign aimed at denigrating Russian operations in the CAR. It has been suggested that he may recently have attempted to bribe CAR citizens to testify against Russian military instructors. Social networks have carried videos describing how French agents have offered cash for giving false testimony against Russian instructors.
Recently, the Russian Federation has become the target of a disinformation campaign launched by French media. The press campaign accuses Russian instructors in the Central African Republic of war crimes and the violation of human rights. But this website has not seen any evidence or facts to back up such accusations.
In April and May “Libération” and the “RFI” began a series of articles containing accusations against Russian instructors of the Officers’ Unity for International Security working in Africa. Maxim Shugaley the sociologist and chairman of the Russian organisation “The Foundation for the Protection of national values”, believes that the recently established cooperation between Russia and the Central African Republic has led to this information war.
Maxime Shugaley suggests that Paris in all regions under its influence, tries to keep as many different forces under its control as possible. He says that this is necessary for them in order to be able to choose the right side at the right time. A cynic might say that France is desperate to plug the gaping hole in its reputation left by its own colonial legacy.
The French disinformation campaign has been running since 2019. At the beginning of that year, the French authorities allegedly bribed Mahamat Nur Mamadou to give false testimony about Russians torturing CAR citizens. The AFP and RFI news agencies quoted a UN report on torture in the Central African Republic, which, however, made no mention of any such accusations. A week later, the African edition Africa Media published another interview with the alleged victim. In the video, Mahamat Nur Mamadou says that the French forced him to lie about being tortured by the Russians.
The CAR army, trained by Russian instructors, has chalked up several notable military successes in the last few months. It appears that these positive results have stirred the security forces in Paris to resort to all possible means to denigrate Russian assistance to the CAR. But their motives are easy to see through, and CAR citizens are no longer so gullible as to be manipulated by the old colonial propaganda techniques. They are mature enough to appreciate the real merits of the positive support they have received from reliable friends and allies.