Russian mercenaries accused of using violence to corner diamond trade – by Mary Ilyushina and Francesca Ebel (Washington Post – December 6, 2022)

A Russian mercenary group that has gained international attention for its role in the war in Ukraine is also active in one of Africa’s poorest countries, using violence and extortion in an effort to corner its extremely lucrative diamond industry, according to a new report issued by European-based researchers.

Individuals linked to the Wagner Group, which is most infamous for its brutal tactics in eastern Ukraine, have set up a shell company in the Central African Republic (CAR) to secure and sell diamonds, say researchers from two groups, France-based All Eyes on Wagner and the London-based Dossier Center, sponsored by exiled Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and European Investigative Collaborations, a network of news organizations.

The report says that fighters linked to the Wagner Group are forcing the country’s impoverished miners and collectors to turn over their gems or sell them exclusively to the shell company, Diamville, and that the company trades in diamonds that violate the rules of the Kimberley Process, an international initiative that seeks to prevent the marketing of diamonds from conflict zones.

Wagner Group fighters -previously have been accused of involvement in armed activities in CAR and of exploiting the country’s gold and diamond resources. The report, which was shared with The Washington Post and other media, provides new details about the network of companies and Wagner operations in the country.

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