# LUC MICHEL’S GEOPOLITICAL DAILY/ A NEW ANALYSIS IN ENGLISH ON OUR NETWORKS: ‘RUSSIA – AFRICA. BEHIND THE SCENES OF MOSCOW’S SOFT POWER’ (THE AFRICA REPORT)

LM.GEOPOL - IV-2022 WAGNER ENGLISH (2022 04 21) doc (1)

Le Quotidien géopolitique – Geopolitical Daily/
de LUC MICHEL (ЛЮК МИШЕЛЬ)/
2022 04 / Série IV/

“Luc Michel is omnipresent in the international ‘Russian sphere’”
– Le Vif-L’Express
(Belgian edition of the French magazine, in “Russia-Belgium: Moscow advances its pawns”, n° 3413, December 2 to 8, 2016).

“… a key figure in relations between Brussels and Moscow is Luc Michel …”
- La Libre Belqique (Brussels, 13 Dec 2014).

-I/
PRESS REVIEW
(FROM “THE AFRICA REPORT”, JULY 18, 2021)

This article is part of the dossier:
From Russia to Africa: The trail of Wagner
(29 July 2021)

Full article on:
https://www.theafricareport.com/in-depth/from-russia-to-africa-the-trail-of-wagner/

“PUTIN’S PIANISSIMO
RUSSIA – AFRICA: BEHIND THE SCENES OF MOSCOW’S SOFT POWER”

Excerpts:
(This is part 2 of a 2-part investigation series)

“Moscow is deploying several means to promote its agenda in Africa, including producing audiovisual content, financing local media, sponsoring “anti-imperialist” influencers and running internet propaganda campaigns. In the second part of our investigation, we go behind-the-scenes to Russia’s softer but growing influence.

On 14 May, several thousand people gathered at Bangui’s Barthélémy-Boganda stadium. They did not come to watch a Fauves match but rather to attend the preview of a rather special film titled Touriste. This Russian-Central African feature film, which was shot in the CAR, traces – and glorifies – the actions of Russian ‘instructors’ who supported the regime of Faustin-Archange Touadéra, who was re-elected in December 2020, and defeated rebels allied to former president François Bozizé.

It is a sort of Hollywood blockbuster with a Moscow twist: it features war scenes where a few Russians stand up to dozens of rebels – Kalashnikovs going off in all directions – and a wounded hero emerges from combat feeling that he has accomplished his mission. This film propagandises Russian mercenaries on the banks of the Ubangi – without addressing the accusations of abuse that target them. According to the Russian press, Touriste was entirely financed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, an oligarch close to Vladimir Putin and the head of the Wagner group (…)”

“It also sponsored the Miss Central African beauty contest in Bangui in December 2018. Even children have not been left out: the Russian company has printed school books and ‘supported’ a small cartoon available on YouTube and which tells the story of a Russian bear who comes to the savannah to rescue animals that have been attacked by hyenas.”

It is clear that Moscow is using a combination of Russian soft power and Wagner’s tough guy stance to establish itself on the continent. At the heart of this strategy is spreading of propaganda on social media. And Prigozhin is still at the helm of this effort.

On 14 May, several thousand people gathered at Bangui’s Barthélémy-Boganda stadium. They did not come to watch a Fauves match but rather to attend the preview of a rather special film titled Touriste. This Russian-Central African feature film, which was shot in the CAR, traces – and glorifies – the actions of Russian ‘instructors’ who supported the regime of Faustin-Archange Touadéra, who was re-elected in December 2020, and defeated rebels allied to former president François Bozizé.

It is a sort of Hollywood blockbuster with a Moscow twist: it features war scenes where a few Russians stand up to dozens of rebels – Kalashnikovs going off in all directions – and a wounded hero emerges from combat feeling that he has accomplished his mission. This film propagandises Russian mercenaries on the banks of the Ubangi – without addressing the accusations of abuse that target them.

Poster of the Russian film ‘Tourist’ shot in CAR. The ‘fiction’, in which one can recognise the Bangui M’Poko airport, the Roux camp, the Russian military camp of Berengo… According to the Russian press, Touriste was entirely financed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, an oligarch close to Vladimir Putin and the head of the Wagner group.

Ever since Bangui and Moscow signed defence agreements at the end of 2017, Russia has been promoting its agenda in the CAR. Lobaye Invest, a mining company linked to the Wagner group, has been acting as the patron of the operation. Headed by Yevgeny Khodotov, a Prigozhin loyalist, it has financed Lengo Songo – a radio station (radio is the country’s dominant media) and La Feuille Volante du Président – a free weekly newspaper.

It also sponsored the Miss Central African beauty contest in Bangui in December 2018. Even children have not been left out: the Russian company has printed school books and ‘supported’ a small cartoon available on YouTube and which tells the story of a Russian bear who comes to the savannah to rescue animals that have been attacked by hyenas.

In the early 2010s, he founded the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a disinformation factory that produces fake news and conspiracy theories in Saint Petersburg. This agency is not (officially) linked to the Kremlin.

Its mission is to run pro-Russian internet propaganda campaigns, thereby defending Moscow and its allies’ interests around the world. In 2014, during the war in Ukraine, the IRA purposefully promoted more coverage that favoured Putin’s aggressive policy (…) The IRA trolls have been responsible for increasing support for Bashar al-Assad in Syria (….)”

“RUSSIAN MANIPULATION NETWORKS”

“In recent years, Prigozhin and other oligarchs have become increasingly attracted to the continent. “Their motivation is primarily financial. They see Africa as a place to make money and explore new horizons. These influencers are acting primarily in their own interests, to make their capital grow, while accompanying Russia’s return to this part of the world,” says Kevin Limonier, a lecturer in geopolitics and specialist in Russian-speaking cyberspace.

“THE RUSSIANS SELL A DECOLONIAL NARRATIVE TO THE CONTINENT BY PRESENTING THEMSELVES AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO FRANCE”

“The Chinese never try to do this – at least not directly. They do so by suggesting that ‘we are bringing you a second decolonisation’.

Establishing themselves in Africa also allows them to accomplish their ambitions in Moscow, where competition between businessmen is fierce. All this is done under the benevolent, even complicit, eye of the authorities, who – officially – have nothing to do with their activities. “The Russian state does not necessarily have the means to fulfil its political ambitions in Africa. It therefore relies on these networks that use unconventional methods and deny their involvement, should a problem arise,” says the researcher (…)

In October 2019, Russia used the Sochi summit, which took place on the shores of the Black Sea, as an opportunity to demonstrate its power in Africa. Once the summit ended, Facebook announced that it would be dismantling Russian-based networks that had conducted manipulation campaigns – particularly during elections – in eight African countries: the CAR, DRC, Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Madagascar, Libya, Mozambique and Sudan.

The social network pointed the finger at Prigozhin’s IRA. The system was well oiled. Hackers, with the help of locally recruited users, disseminated pro-Russian publications in a coordinated manner, taking care not to be identified. In all, these campaigns were seen by dozens of accounts, pages and groups made up of more than 750,000 users.

“They typically posted global and local political information, including topics such as Russian politics in Africa, elections in Madagascar and Mozambique, election monitoring by a local non-governmental organisation and criticism of French and US politics,” Facebook’s security department said in a statement (…)

One of the main targets of the pro-Russian hackers is France as they want to fuel anti-French sentiment, which is not hard to do given that Africa has been criticising the former colonial power for decades.”

“ATTACK WESTERN SYMBOLS”

“Prigozhin and his lieutenants rely on anti-imperialist activists, some of whom are well-known, to feed this anti-French discourse (…)

The Russians also rely on anti-Western activists in Mali, which has been plagued by insecurity and has seen two coups in nine months. France is widely held responsible for this country’s precarious situation. Mired in a Sahelian quagmire from which many struggle to see how they will manage to emerge without losing face, the French authorities have announced the end of Operation Barkhane and a reduction of their military presence in the region. Moscow is now trying to fill the gap.

According to French intelligence, Russian emissaries have approached Adama Ben Diarra, leader of the Yerewolo movement and member of the Conseil National de Transition (CNT) – the transition government’s legislative body. At the end of May, Ben Diarra organised several demonstrations in Bamako, including in front of the Russian embassy, to demand the departure of France and that Russia break the deadlock in Mali. He denies receiving any external financing. “I have never had any contact with a Russian. Not a diplomat, not a businessman, not a soldier, not even a journalist. All our actions are financed by membership fees. There is no external funding, except for money sent by the diaspora. Everything that is organised by Yerewolo is financed by Yerewolo,” says Ben Diarra.

“THE RUSSIANS ALSO RELY, LIKE OTHER WORLD POWERS, ON TRADITIONAL MEDIA TO WIN HEARTS AND MINDS”

“Russia Today and Sputnik’s French editorial offices, which are based in Paris, are responsible for covering news in French-speaking Africa. Neither of them has offices on the ground, only a handful of correspondents. According to various internal sources, there is no desire – for the time being – to put more editorial resources into developing their African coverage.

“AT THE SAME TIME, MOSCOW CAN COUNT ON A FEW VERY PRO-RUSSIAN AFRICAN CHANNELS, THE MOST IMPORTANT OF WHICH IS AFRIQUE MEDIA TV, BASED IN CAMEROON”

“Before getting into business with the Russians, its promoter, Justin B. Tagouh, had developed his channel with support from Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and Idriss Déby Itno. Tagouh was on the outs with Paris, while his son and putative successor, Teodorín Nguema Obiang Mangue, was being prosecuted within the context of the ill-gotten gains affair. Itno, for his part, saw the channel as a means of fanning the embers of Francophobia and to demonstrate to Paris that he was an indispensable resource in the fight against terrorism.”

*** “LUC MICHEL, WITH HIS-COLONIALIST COLUMNS, IS POPULAR IN MOSCOW”

“The company does not rely on hypothetical advertising revenues but rather on contracts negotiated with heads of state. Except that, since 2014, the oil crisis has dried up public finances of these two sources of revenue. In search of funding, Tagouh contacted the Russians through Luc Michel, his intermediary and friend. This Belgian consultant, who is linked to extreme right-wing networks in Europe and known to Afrique Media TV viewers for his anti-colonialist columns, is popular in Moscow.

Thanks to his support, Tagouh went to Sochi twice and claimed to have met Putin, even though no one in his entourage could confirm this. On the other hand, he does have photo evidence that he met with Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign affairs minister. “The Russians asked us to accompany them but never told us to denigrate France,” said a journalist from Afrique Media (…)”

The same opacity surrounds the pan-African radio project that was financed by Russia and announced in 2020 by Tagouh. “12 countries have already given their authorisation. We hope to wrap this dossier up quickly so that we can [move] to production,” says a source close to the discussions. Moscow feels that Afrique Media TV’s stance restores a kind of balance to the Francophone space, where the narratives have always been favourable to the West.

Tagouh also helped create the Conseil Africain des Médias in 2013 in Malabo, under the auspices of Obiang Nguema – who provided $1m in funding to this institution, whose mission is to ‘promote the image of a positive Africa’. Clearly, under Tagouh’s leadership, it is also going to get closer to his Russian partners.

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with President of Central African Republic Faustin Archange Touadera during a meeting on the sidelines of the Russia–Africa Summit in Sochi, Russia October 23, 2019. Sputnik/Mikhail Metzel/Kremlin via REUTERS
Wagner, the unofficial private security company linked to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, is becoming increasingly active in the continent. Its story involves secret dealings, cash and local intelligence networks, is worthy of a spy novel. In the first of our two-part investigation, we delve into its tightly woven network.

PUTIN’S CRESCENDO
RUSSIA/AFRICA: WAGNER, AN INVESTIGATION INTO PUTIN’S MERCENARIES

Excerpts :
(This is part 1 of a 2-part investigation series)

“(…) How did Wagner become omnipresent?
In September 2017, France said it would deliver 1,500 Kalashnikovs – that its navy had confiscated off the coast of Somalia one and a half years earlier – to the Central African Armed Forces. However, as the CAR was under a UN arms embargo, this decision had to be approved by the UN Security Council. Moscow, which had veto power, opposed the project.

To break the deadlock, Paris discreetly advised Touadéra to plead his case with the Russian giant. In October, the Central African president met with foreign affairs minister Sergey Lavrov in Sochi. The Kremlin then agreed to lift its veto and took advantage of this opportunity to bring up the thorny Central African issue.

Lavrov proposed an agreement that involved more than just a ‘simple’ lifting of the veto. Russia agreed to put all its weight behind lifting the embargo, which Bangui had long hoped would be eased. In exchange, Russia expected a return on investment. One of the agreement’s clauses, which was not made public at the time, was that either a Russian mining company be created in the CAR or that Russians be allowed to operate an airfield in the Ouadda region.

In January 2018, an Ilyushin 76 cargo plane made its first arms delivery. This was followed by 6,200 Kalashnikovs, 900 Makarov automatic pistols, 270 rocket launchers and 20 anti-aircraft guns, which were delivered in less than two months.

Above all, the first Russian ‘advisors’ landed on Central African soil and at least two companies obtained their first contracts. These were Lobaye Invest, which was created in October 2017, and its subsidiary Sewa Security Services, responsible for ensuring its security. In June and July 2018, Léopold Mboli Fatran, the minister of mines, granted Lobaye Invest mining exploration permits in the regions of Yawa and Pama. Other permits were granted afterwards for the regions of N’Délé, Bria, Birao and Alindao.”

As such, Prigozhin is considered the main financier of Wagner, a group which was created in 2013 and 2014 and is often attributed to Dmitri Outkin – his relative who was a neo-Nazi sympathiser as well as a former lieutenant colonel of both the special forces and the GRU.

“As early as 2018, we saw the ‘advisors’ and companies controlled by Prigozhin arrive,” says a Bangui-based diplomat. In France, at the Quai d’Orsay, several memos were written about the rise of Russian influence. There was a lot of worry after it was discovered that Zakharov was summoning ministers and presenting himself as the main advisor to the president, who had surrounded himself with guards recruited by Sewa Security Services.

But the Paris hierarchy, confident about its historical relationship with the CAR, chose to downplay the situation. Meanwhile, Prigozhin’s men, many of whom were close to him and advised by the GRU (Wagner’s first training camp in Russia that was located near Krasnodar and was a GRU base), played their part to perfection.

Zakharov and his men, who exploited anti-French sentiment and actively supported propaganda hostile to Paris (…)

“THEY QUICKLY FOUND A SOLUTION: TO EXERT THEIR INFLUENCE ON SUDAN, ONE OF THE CAR’S NEIGHBOURS”

“In Khartoum, Russia and Wagner’s influence steadily grew during the last few years of Omar al-Bashir’s rule. This was met with great hostility from the US, which had supported the southern Sudanese neighbour since its independence. As a result, Wagner and Prigozhin decided to use the Sudanese bridgehead to move into the CAR (…)

A summit meeting, at the helm of which was Jamal Aldin Omar, took place in August 2018 in the directorate of military intelligence building. For several months, Omar’s men had been in contact with leaders of the Central African armed group, including Noureddine Adam and Ali Darassa.

Discrete helicopter trips were made between the Sudanese capital and the Central African bush. Omar explained to those in attendance that Khartoum was ready to host a dialogue between the Bangui government and the rebels fighting Touadéra. Most importantly, he said Morocco – which was considered a strong ally – was supporting him.

Since 2013, Russia has undeniably supported Khartoum. Mercenaries were quickly spotted, especially during moments when demonstrators were being repressed, and up to 300 men were employed by a company called M-Finance, which entered into a contract with the Russian authorities to use military aircraft and bring them to Sudan. Wagner is behind these mercenaries and operates through three companies (…) “

In addition to the leaders of the armed groups, Firmin Ngrébada (CAR’s prime minister) and Marie-Noëlle Koyara (the defence minister) were on board. After final negotiations, the so-called ‘Khartoum agreement’ was signed that same day, under the auspices of the African Union (AU) and its commissioner for peace and security, Smaïl Chergui. It was then signed by President Touadéra at the Palais de la Renaissance in Bangui the next day.”

“WAGNER HAD ACHIEVED A DIPLOMATIC VICTORY”

“After the Khartoum agreement, Russia and Wagner’s hold on Bangui became even stronger. They strengthened their relationship with Touadéra and Ngrébada, and further spread the message that they had succeeded where others had failed,” says one diplomat.

At the helm was Zakharov, the presidency’s ubiquitous former intelligence officer, and his younger brother Sytyi, the two men that Prigozhin had presented as ‘Wagner’s representatives in Bangui’. The former went so far as to speak on behalf of the Central African government on social media. The second – who speaks English, French, Spanish and Russian – was one of the main architects of anti-French communication operations.

Sytyi, a 32-year-old graduate in marketing from a Parisian business school and management from the University of Catalonia, worked with the information and communication office, a discreet unit attached to the presidency. Headed until recently by one of Touadéra’s close colleagues, the current interior minister Michel Nicaise Nassin, the ‘Office’ responsible for setting up websites with favourable content about the Russian-Central African alliance. According to a document that we managed to obtain, it produces publications that present ‘certain politicians as enemies of the people’, ‘denounce the Minusca’s double game’ and above all, insist on ‘the Faca and Russian forces’ victory’.

“In 2017 and 2018, Wagner set up his relays in the CAR. In 2019, after the agreement, it went to another dimension,” says a Central African politician. “Lobaye’s mining activities expanded and the number of mercenaries increased, while Wagner’s influence on the government grew,” says a former minister, who adds “and that was before the last presidential election and the creation of the CPC.” If the signing of the February 2019 agreements was a victory for Prigozhin and his men, then the same armed groups that signed the agreements will provide him with the opportunity to develop his strategy further.

‘The CPC has opened a boulevard for them’
By mid-December 2020, tension had been rising for several weeks in Bangui, as the opposition was protesting against the upcoming election. However, President Touadéra was determined that the first round, which was scheduled for 27 December, would go ahead as planned. Furthermore, the constitutional court had decided that Bozizé could not run as a presidential candidate.

Although he decided – in the end – to support Anicet-Georges Dologuélé, the former president discreetly made contact with some of the armed groups that had signed the Khartoum agreement and who were planning to take up arms again to prevent the elections from taking place.

The government has almost no control over Wagner’s decisions. It gives them a carte blanche.

On 17 December, six of them – led by Abass Sidiki, Ali Darassa, Mahamat al-Khatim, Adam, Maxime Mokom and Dieudonné Ndamaté – announced the creation of the CPC. Two days later, they stated that they would be marching onto Bangui. On 27 December, Bozizé declared his support for the rebels and asked his supporters not to vote, thereby betraying his commitment to Dologuélé in the process. “This was the tipping point,” says a diplomat. “The international community found itself obliged to support Touadéra in the defence of Bangui. But who could defend the capital?”

“The CPC offensive has opened up a boulevard for Wagner,” says a security source. The UN mission in the CAR (Minusca) was caught in a trap. “We were forced to fight alongside the mercenaries in some areas, but we had to defend the population,” says a peacekeeper.

“IN DECEMBER, JANUARY AND FEBRUARY, SEWA SECURITY SERVICES’ MEN FOUGHT SPORADICALLY AGAINST THE CPC REBELS”

“Who – after having hoped for a while to take over Bangui – decided to withdraw and take advantage of the depth of the territory. On 11 February, Zakharov, the presidency’s real spokesman, declared that the government was on its way to “controlling the whole territory.”

From then on, Russia was entirely in control. From the Berengo camp, where it had been based since April 2018, Wagner’s staff made decisions before communicating them to the Bangui-based presidency and the ministry of defence, where Moscow had officially sent General Oleg Polguev to act as an advisor, but purely as a façade.

Wagner and Sewa Security Services’ men were stationed at Emperor Bokassa’s former palace compound. Part of the premises was set up to train Central African soldiers and the two-kilometre long airfield runway was rehabilitated. But the heart of the camp, which housed the headquarters, was off limits to locals. And the area around the perimeter, which was officially under the control of the ministry of defence, was guarded day and night by hooded white men.

Jean Serge Bokassa, the former emperor’s own son, was repeatedly denied access to his father’s mausoleum and was only able to visit it twice after Wagner’s arrival, as its leaders imposed conditions on him, such as insisting on being present and giving a speech at the authorised tribute ceremonies.”

“The government has almost no control over Wagner’s decisions. It gives them a carte blanche,” says one politician. “The Russians reconquer localities and then call the Faca to come and occupy the land,” said another source close to Minusca.

“HOW STRONG ARE WAGNER AND THE SEWA SECURITY SERVICES?”

“It is completely unclear,” said the UN. On 18 April, Moscow acknowledged that it had deployed “532 instructors” in the CAR, but several well-informed sources estimate that the figure was closer to 2,000 men, of which a little less than 1,000 may have been stationed in Berengo and some of whom – the ones who speak Arabic – are from Syria and Libya (…)

“From Berengo, they can move troops, weapons or mining equipment as they wish,” says a UN expert. Several airfields in N’Délé, Birao and Ouadda were rehabilitated (…) 17 helicopters were also reportedly stationed at the Roux camp in Bangui, not including the Antonov jumbo jets that land at Bangui’s Mpoko airport.

“We have seen constant arm deliveries since December. The quantities are very large,” says an expert. “Often they come from Port Sudan, where Wagner is based. Then they land and are unloaded at night in Bangui, or perhaps they go as far as Berengo or other bases, such as Am Fadok, on the Sudanese-Central African border. Even in Mpoko, controls are ineffective, and much of it goes under the UN radar and is not declared,” says a security source.

On 23, 24 and 25 January 2021, two Sudanese-registered Antonov aircraft operated by the Sudanese Air Force flew to Mpoko airport, delivering “arms, ammunition and military equipment”, according to the latest report by the UN panel of experts, which was submitted to the Security Council on 29 June. The report concludes that “deliveries have continued at a pace not seen since the arms embargo was imposed in 2013” (…)

“BAMAKO’S TURN?”

“For several weeks, Wagner’s men have been keeping a lower profile in Bangui. Zakharov has suspended his social media accounts and does not visit the Central African capital as often as he did before. Moscow asked Wagner to be more discreet, so as not to further heighten the tension between France and the Security Council.

The president’s close security team is now mostly made up of Central Africans, whereas in recent years, it was dominated by Russians. Finally, under pressure from France, there was a reshuffle at the end of June which put an end to prime minister Ngrébada’s term in office, as he was considered to be too close to Moscow.

Koyara also left his position as minister of defence. “Moscow asked Wagner to be more discreet, so as not to further heighten the tension between France and the Security Council,” says a diplomat based in Bangui. Is Prigozhin already looking to other horizons? In any case, Wagner’s emissaries were spotted at the end of 2019 in Bamako, where they hoped to take advantage of anti-French sentiment to offer the same services they had provided in the CAR. “They speak out against neo-colonialism and offer their help as a partner and not as a tutelary power. This resonates with the former colonies,” says a Sahelian diplomat.

Ever since Assimi Goïta (now president of the transition government) took over power in Mali, many observers have noted that several of his colleagues – including Malick Diaw (president of the Conseil National de Transition) and Sadio Camara (minister of defence), as well as Goïta – were trained in Russia.

According to Malian military sources, Diaw and Camara were also trained in Moscow from January to August 2020, just a few days before the coup that propelled them to power. Finally, several pro-Russian and anti-French demonstrations were also organised, both in Bamako and Sikasso. “We know how Wagner weaves its web and we are paying attention,” said a source in French intelligence.

Several French arms companies have nevertheless expressed concern about the number of Russian intermediary contacts that Goïta’s entourage has made. “France has lost influence in the CAR ever since Operation Sangaris ended. The two countries are very different, so it is highly unlikely that the same scenario will take place in Mali once Barkhane officially ends,” our analyst says. However, the risk was deemed serious enough for French military intelligence to make ‘Russian penetration’ a priority, not only in Mali but also the entire Sahel zone (…)”

NOW THAT WAGNER HAS SUCCESSFULLY CONQUERED KHARTOUM AND BANGUI, WILL IT SUCCEED IN FULFILLING ITS AMBITIONS AND THOSE OF THE KREMLIN FURTHER WEST ON THE CONTINENT?

“The discreet African symphony that Putin and his ally Prigozhin have been composing, from Libya to Mozambique via Sudan and the CAR, seems to be – in any case – still unfinished.

-II/
REFRAMING AND CRITICISM OF THE ANALYSIS OF ‘THE AFRICA REPORT’
THE AFRICA REPORT publishes a so-called “Putin mercenary investigation” (sic) (July 18, 2021). Subtitled « PUTIN’S CRESCENDO » (resic)! A so-called “investigation” completely pumped out of copy-and-paste from Pentagon and Sorös Networks publications. Who in particular hysterically denounces “behind the scenes of Russian softpower in Africa”, in particular Luc Michel and Justin Tagouh, the CEO of Afrique Média: “Production of audiovisual content, financing of local media, sponsorship of “anti-imperialist” influencers, propaganda campaigns on the Internet… The means deployed by Moscow to promote its action are innumerable”.

WHEN THE AFRICA REPORT DOES COPY AND PASTE!

The so-called “investigation” is indeed pumped in full from two American publications:

1-
A Pentagon Report – titled “BEYOND ‘HYBRID WARFARE’: A DIGITAL EXPLORATION OF RUSSIAN INFLUENCER ENTREPRENEURS” (Oct. 16, 2020) – which identifies 5 top “influencer entrepreneurs” at the heart of the Russian information and parallel Russian diplomacy in Africa, including Yevgeny Prigozhin and Luc Michel.
This « Report », established on so-called « scientific » sources (in fact these academics recruited and financed by the US Administration, have become American agents of influence specialized in Russophobia) is there to give a scientific varnish to the Russophobic campaigns from the Pentagon and CIA legal storefronts.

In addition to the US think-tank of the Carnegie Foundation, it was published in English in a short version by the POST-SOVIET AFFAIRS review (Volume 37, 2021, from which the quotations for this analysis are taken) and in a long version by ORBIS review ( Volume 65, Issue 3, 2021, Pages 403-419) under the title « RUSSIA’S AFRICAN TOOLKIT: DIGITAL INFLUENCE AND ENTREPRENEURS OF INFLUENCE », where Luc Michel (cited first in this version) is said to be one of the « first adventurers of Russian media influence » and that « Luc Michel is not the only example of influential entrepreneurship supporting Russian interests (…) represent formidable echo chambers for Russia on the continent and great entrepreneurs influential Russians, like Yevgeny Prigozhin, are now taking a closer interest in Africa ».

WHO IS FUNDING THIS REPORT?
“This article is part of a two-year project (…) RUSSIA AND CHINA AS SERVICE PROVIDERS FOR ILLIBERAL GOVERNANCE, funded by the US Department of Defense under the
Minerva Research Initiative DECUR Partnership”. Operation of disinformation therefore of the
US Department of Defense and US Navy Office of Naval Research.

2-
the book “THE COMPANY YOU KEEP’” (2020) against Yevgeny Prigozhine and Luc Michel.
At the heart of the American-French destabilization campaign, there is this book “The company you keep. Yevgeny Prigozhine’s Influence Operations in Africa” (edited by the Free Russia Foundation in Washington). A book that mixes myths and realities. A chapter on the media is devoted to Luc MICHEL.

In articles derived from the book, notably on the US website ‘THE DAILY BEAST’, we add another layer to demonize the enemies of the USA. PRIGOZHINE is called a « gangster » there. Luc MICHEL is described as “A VILAIN OUT OF JAMES BOND FILMS” (sic) and his networks in Africa and Eurasia are directly targeted by this campaign.

« One of the main phenomena that has appeared since the second half of the 20th century is the deconstruction of the adversary » (dixit Pierre Conesa, « The making of the enemy, or how to kill with one’s conscience for oneself »). A diabolical, demonized figure that bears little, if any, relation to the actual character being attacked. To the point that he can legitimately wonder when he reads his fake bio, if it is really about him!

RUSSIA’S “GRAY DIPLOMACY” IN AFRICA

The Pentagon Report “argues that to understand Russia’s influence abroad, one must understand the country’s ‘grey diplomacy’… We define ‘influencers’ as people who invest their own money or social capital to develop their influence abroad (…) We test this notion by examining both famous and unknown influencer entrepreneurs and their digital activities. We divide them into three main categories according to their degree of closeness to the authorities: the magnates (Yevgeny Prigozhin and Konstantin Malofeev), the timeservers (Alexander Yonov and Alexander Malkevich) and THE FRONTLINE PIONEERS (THE BELGIAN LUC MICHEL)” . These “local pioneers” are there to “open new front lines”…

« Western experts often present Russia’s so-called Hybrid War as a black box closed to outside observers, » the Pentagon Report says. Although it is difficult to capture personal interactions and informal endorsements, a more granular approach to RUSSIAN PARALLEL DIPLOMACY actors through digital survey techniques offers important insights into the structure of the Russian political system. It is far more plural, decentralized and chaotic than outside observers tend to consider it to be. This plurality and decentralization may have emerged by default, but the Kremlin is now using it to good effect. As a poor big power, Russia must promote PRIVATE INITIATIVES that support its strategic interests and use influencer contractors to test the ground where OFFICIAL PUBLIC DIPLOMACY IS WEAK OR LIMITED. If the test is successful, then the official structures can consolidate the established network. If the test fails, official institutions benefit from plausible deniability and can adapt their approaches and discourses in response to these failures. »

LUC MICHEL AT THE HEART OF GRAY DIPLOMACY

The geopolitician Luc MICHEL is in fact the creator of a powerful PRO-RUSSIAN LOBBY in Europe and Eurasia for three decades, but also in Africa (where he was a precursor) since the years 2013. The influence and the immense Putin’s popularity in Africa can be explained by lobbying, which has led to the creation of an AFRICAN RUSSOSPHERE, which influences the psychology of the African popular masses and marginalizes pro-Western comprador elites. It is at the heart of this GRAY DIPLOMACY, the aim of which is to “test the ground where OFFICIAL PUBLIC DIPLOMACY IS WEAK OR LIMITED”.

Precisely the Geopolitics of the 21st Century sees the intervention of “extra-state actors”: criminal organizations (mafias or terrorism), but also political actors (NGOs, lobbies, political networks). This is where the « entrepreneurs of influence » of the Pentagon Report joins the « geopolitical entrepreneurs » described by the researcher T. Stanovaïa, a few years ago.

Luc Michel is precisely one of these “geopolitical entrepreneurs”. The media activities of the geopolitician, in particular on Afrique Média or PRESS TV, the publishing of WebTV, the production of programs (Le Grand Jeu, Grand Reporter, etc.) or the making of films, are only the visible part of his transnational action. .

WITH HIS NETWORKS IN EURASIA AND AFRICA, LUC MICHEL HAS PARTICIPATED AS AN ACTOR IN FIVE MAJOR GEOPOLITICAL CRISES OVER THE PAST TEN YEARS:

* 1- LIBYAN JAMAHIRYA DEFENSE attacked to death in 2011.
NATO’s first international campaign against the geopolitician!
The geopolitician Luc MICHEl (in combat since 1985 with the Jamahiriya of Kaadhafi and the Libyan MCR) ensured the external defense of the Jamahiriya with his ELAC committees (Euro-Libyan Action Committees)

* 2- THE CRIMEA CRISIS in early 2014.
Second massive NATO international campaign against the geopolitician!
When the NATO media panicked. Without firing a single shot, without shedding a drop of blood, without casualties and without violence, the « men in green » neutralized the Ukrainian army in Crimea and seized military bases and airports. Putin, who took kyiv and the West by storm, explained two years later that the « men in green » without insignia were in fact Russian Special Forces of the GRU (military intelligence).
Then the « men in green » secure from March 14 to 16 the operations of the self-determination referendum of Crimea (organized by the Autonomous Republic of Crimea) and the operations of its monitoring ensured by the International Mission of the NGO EODE of Luc MICHEL.

EODE organized the International Monitoring Mission of the Self-Determination Referendum in CRIMEA and Sevastopol on 14-17 March 2014, an indispensable condition for its validity and a challenge to NATO and the OSCE, to which we damned the pawn: « At the time when he was blocking observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Putin was bringing in others via the Eurasian Observatory for Democracy and Elections (EODE), a non-governmental organization created and administered by (…) Luc Michel, in an attempt to legitimize the March 16, 2014 referendum in Crimea” says the IFRI review (Cfr. “Crimea: the contradictions of Russian discourse”, by Jean-Baptiste Jeangène Vilmerin, in POLITIQUE ETRANGERE, 2015/1 (Spring), edited by IFRI, Paris).

* 3- SUPPORT TO THE SELF-PROCLAIMED REPUBLIC OF DONBASS in Ukraine in 2014-2015.
Third NATO international campaign against the geopolitician!
In particular the “Yalta Conference on Novorossiya” (august 2014). Fabrice BEAUR, a Frenchman who lives in Russia and Secretary-General of our Eurasian Networks, will organize for EODE the monitoring of the first legislative elections in Donestk. He is the first Frenchman banned from entering Ukraine.

* 4- THE CRISIS OF NATO RADAR AND MISSILE INSTALLATIONS IN POLAND AND ROMANIA at the beginning of 2015.
Fourth international NATO campaign against the geopolitician!
While staying in Malabo, Luc Michel launched with SPUTNIK-MOSCOW a major international campaign against “the transformation of Romania into a base for aggression against Russia”. For weeks he made the front page of all the major Romanian media, including the main TV STIRILE PRO TV.

* 5- WESTERN ATTEMPTS AT “REGIME CHANGE” IN BURUNDI in 2015-2016.
Fifth massive NATO international campaign against the geopolitician!
From the beginning of 2015, Luc Michel is committed headwind in the defense of Burundi, with a national and international audience. In 2015, the Burundian media designated him as « Burundi’s best friend »: AGNEWS in Bujumbura wrote « Luc Michel, Belgian pan-Africanist and geopolitical analyst, continued to defend, with supporting arguments, the State of Burundi in the face of aggression of which it is the object on the part of the USA, France and Belgium, but also of the African Union ».

In May 2016 he organized a major political-media tour in Burundi, then went to Quebec to visit the Burundian diaspora. In Bujumbura, during a conference in front of the Burundian leadership, he triggered an international diplomatic scandal! He is received amicably by President Nkurunziza. Qualified as the president’s « occult adviser », he was the object of a major attack by the presstitutes of LIBERATION (Paris, close to Sorös) on two color pages commissioned by the Quai d’Orsay.

* 6- THE CONFRONTATION BETWEEN RUSSIA AND FRANCE AND THE USA IN CENTRAL AFRICA since 2018.
We are living the sixth massive international campaign of NATO against the geopolitician, in particular via the US Pentagon and the journalists of JEUNE AFRIQUE!
Luc Michel is on the front line in the defense of President Touadera, the FACA and the Russians in the CAR. In 2019, he directed his film GRAND REPORTER EN CENTRAFRIQUE (12) and multiplied the interviews of the president. He hosts his webTV CENTRAFRICA-NEWS-TV in Bangui with an international audience.

Among the presidents he has frequented:
Smirnov (Moldavian Republic of Dniester), Bagapsch (Abkhazia), Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (Equatorial Guinea), his friend Déby (Chad), Nkurunziza (Burundi), Kabila (DRC), Puchilin (DNL, Lugansk), Ndayishimiye (Burundi)…

Luc MICHEL (Люк МИШЕЛЬ)

* Avec le Géopoliticien de l’Axe Eurasie-Afrique :
Géopolitique – Géoéconomie – Géoidéologie – Géohistoire – Géopolitismes – Néoeurasisme – Néopanafricanisme
(Vu de Moscou, Téhéran et Malabo) :
PAGE SPECIALE Luc MICHEL’s Geopolitical Daily
https://www.facebook.com/LucMICHELgeopoliticalDaily/

* WEBSITE http://www.lucmichel.net/
LUCMICHEL-TV https://vk.com/lucmicheltv
RADIO.LUCMICHEL
https://www.podcastics.com/podcast/radiolucmichel/
TWITTER https://twitter.com/LucMichelPCN
FACEBOOK https://www.facebook.com/Pcn.luc.Michel/

LM.GEOPOL - IV-2022 WAGNER ENGLISH (2022 04 21) doc (2) LM.GEOPOL - IV-2022 WAGNER ENGLISH (2022 04 21) doc (3)

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