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The secret plan of a Russian company to suppress protests in Sudan

At the same time, a more insidious strategy was developed – a strategy that spread false information on social media, blamed Israel for fomenting unrest, and even executing public executions to provide an example of "looting". to give. [19659002] The author of this strategy was not the Sudanese government. According to CNN, it was created by a Russian company tied to a Kremlin-fined oligarch: Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Several government and military sources in Khartoum have confirmed to CNN that the Bashir government has received and responded to the proposals before Bashir was ousted in a coup earlier this month. A former regime official said Russian advisors had overseen the protests and started to work out a plan that met them with "minimal but acceptable loss of life".

Although the documents are not from official Russian authorities, they were essentially a blueprint to protect the interests of the Kremlin in Sudan and keep Bashir in power.

CNN's documents, including letters and internal corporate communications, number in the thousands of people procured and investigated by the London-based Dossier Center in exile Russian businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky

The Dossier Center receives data, documents and information other information from various sources, which are often anonymous, and shares it with journalists. Chodorkovsky was tortured for alleged corruption in Russia by President Vladimir Putin and spent several years in prison for alleged tax fraud ̵

1; which he has always denied.

CNN has classified the documents as credible. They are also consistent with the reports of witnesses who said Russian observers had been seen in the recent protests in Sudan.

  Police bombarded demonstrators in Khartoum with tear gas in December.

Sudan was the template of Moscow to extend its influence in Africa and around the world: A hybrid of private and state interests that rewards both oligarchs and the Kremlin. It is a cost-effective strategy that will take Moscow to strategically important locations without the commitment of regular forces or large investments by the Russian government. Instead, companies are used to provide private contractors for commercial concessions.

In fact, the documents CNN views are from a St. Petersburg-based M-Invest, which has a branch in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. M-Invest calls its core business the "extraction of ores and precious metal sand". CNN has already received concessions for a gold mine in Sudan, CNN reported.

But his activities seem to go far beyond mining.

What the Dossier Center Documents Show

President Bashir maintained a close relationship with the Kremlin, which traveled to Moscow in 2017. Russia delivered modern Su-35 fighters in the same year. Put simply, Russia had placed a big bet on Bashir. In protests against the regime, the bet was at risk.

According to documents reviewed by CNN, M-Invest has set up a plan to discredit and suppress these protests.

CNN proposes to spread the claim that protesters attacked mosques and hospitals. It also suggested creating a picture of protesters as "enemies of Islam and traditional values" by putting LGBT flags under them. And he proposed a social media campaign claiming that "Israel supports the demonstrators."

  An excerpt from the documents describes a plan for disseminating disinformation.

The strategy also suggested that the government "simulate a dialogue with the opposition and demonstrate the openness of the government" in order to "isolate the protest leaders and gain time".

M-Invest suggested ways to make the government look good – through widely publicized "free distribution of bread, flour, grains, food". He recommended to produce evidence of "arson by protesters against mosques, hospitals and day care centers, [and] which stole grain from the public store".

It has also been proposed to blame the West for the protests and to make extensive use of the questioning of prisoners in the media, where they acknowledge that they have come to organize a civil war in Sudan. "And it was even suggested" public executions of raiders and other spectacular events to distract the Protestant public. "

CNN made several efforts to reach M-Invest, their phone number in St. Petersburg did not work Spokesman answered a phone call in his office in Khartoum, but hung up and CNN visited the address, but was informed that the room had been leased to a Russian company called Mir Gold.

Another company's document recommends arresting protesters the day before Demonstrations – and disseminating disinformation by stating that protesters have been paid to participate – Also recommended: Demonstrate how "security forces arrested a car carrying weapons, foreign currency and propaganda material operated by foreign citizens . "

  Protests last December in Sudan.

M-Invest also suggested setting up social media teams to attack the protest movement "to initiate disputes with users and express an alternative agenda … The optimal number of parallel accounts – 40-50."

In a way, the book is similar to the Internet Research Agency's US-accused attempt to disrupt the 2016 US election campaign.

Prigozhin – known as "Putin's boss" for the catering contracts he had with the Kremlin, was one of thirteen. The Russians have filed charges in the context of US Special Representative Robert Mueller's investigations into election interests in Russia. The US claims that fictional social media sites have been set up to polarize voters with rebellious and sometimes fake information. Prigozhin has denied any involvement in election missions and denied any connection to the Internet Research Agency. Calls to his main company, Concord Management and Consulting, went unanswered.

The documents reviewed by CNN do not indicate that official Russian security services were directly involved in suppressing the protests in Sudan.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova At a press conference in January, he said: "We are informed that some employees of Russian private security firms that are not affiliated with Russian government agencies are actually working in Sudan, but their functions are limited to those Staff training."

Time is running out.

Sources in Khartoum have told CNN that the Bashir government has attempted to implement some of M-Invest's plans.

For example, students from the Darfur region were arrested and accused of instigating a civil war – one of M-Invest's recommended tricks. The sources say that Russian consultants from a private company were housed in several ministries and the National Intelligence Service.

But it was too little, too late.

In a letter to Bashir written on March 17, Prigozhin complained that the "inactivity" of the Sudanese government had "triggered the aggravation of the crisis." And he added with unknown prior knowledge: "The lack of active steps by the new government to overcome the crisis is likely to lead to even more serious political consequences."

  A letter expressed concern that the plan had not been implemented. 19659038] A letter expressed concern that the plan had not been implemented.

Another letter from Prigozhin on April 6 praised the longtime Sudanese ruler as a "wise and yearning leader," but urged for immediate economic reforms to solve the crisis.

Bashir was deposed five days later.

The Military Dimension

Sudan, a resource-rich nation bordering seven other countries, was shunned by the West. Its Red Sea coast was of particular interest to Moscow, as the United States and China had recently established a military presence in the region. Moscow has observed the development of a naval base in Port Sudan.

Again M-Invest was involved. In June 2018, he wrote a letter on behalf of the Sudan Military Industrial Corporation to strengthen the military connections. It mentioned a visit by the deputy commander of the Russian Navy, Lieutenant General Oleg Makarevich, who had discussed last month that "the possibility was discussed of creating logistic ships of the Russian Navy in the territory of the Republic of Sudan". 19659008] M-Invest documents point to the importance of a port in Sudan for Russia. "src-mini =" // cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190424095842-01-russia-sudan-minvest-plan-to-source-protests-intl-small-169.jpg "src-xsmall = "//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190424095842-01-russia-sudan-minvest-plan-to-source-protests-intl-medium-plus-169.jpg" src-small = "http: //cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190424095842-01-russia-sudan-minvest-plan-to-source-protests-intl-large-169.jpg "src-medium =" // cdn.cnn .com / cnnnext / dam / assets / 190424095842-01-russia-sudan-minvest-plan-to-source-protests-intl-exlarge-169.jpg "src-large =" // cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/ dam / assets / 190424095842-01-russia-sudan-minvest-plan-to-source-protests-intl-super-169.jpg "src-full16x9 =" // cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190424095842 -01-russia-sudan-minvest-plan-to-source-protests-intl-full-169.jpg "src-mini1x1 =" // cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190424095842-01-russia- sudan-minvest-plan-to-source-protests-intl-small-11.jpg "data-demand-load =" not-loaded "data-eq-pts =" mini: 0, xsmall: 221, small: 308, Medium: 461, large: 781 "/> [19659041] M-Invest documents point to the importance of a port in Sudan for Russia. ” class=”media__image” src=”http://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190424095842-01-russia-sudan-minvest-plan-to-quell-protests-intl-large-169.jpg”/>

The letter is addressed to General Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the Russian Armed Forces. It is thanks to Gerasimov that he advocates the use of alternative measures for military violence – including political and economic levers as well as the influence of social media on public opinion – to suppress opponents.

Yevgeny Prigozhin is a pioneer and partner of Russia's hybrid strategy. The Internet Research Agency was not just connected to its Concord Management company. He was also associated with a company, Evro Polis, which secured the rights of oil exploration in Syria. At that time, fighters from a company called Wagner, a private military contractor, were also working in Syria. As CNN has already reported, Wagner is led by Dmitry Utkin, who is under US sanctions for supporting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. Utkin has long been near the inner circle of Prigozhin. However, the mining permit for M-Invest in Sudan was signed by a director named Mikhail Potepkin. A man of the same name was also owned by a company called IT-Debugger with Anna Bogacheva, one of those named in the indictment of Müller against 13 Russians as an employee of the Internet Research Agency.
  Concord Catering Director-General Yevgeny Prigozhin after the Sixth Meeting of the High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council

] Potepkin also describes himself as a project manager for another company, Megaline, which is 50% owned by Prigozhin holding company Concord. In a memo to Megalines Letterhead to the Ministry of Minerals of Sudan in 2017, he said that M-Invest "will receive all the necessary support from the Megaline Group".

CNN failed to contact Potepkin.

M-Invest signed with CNN a contract with the Russian Ministry of Defense for the use of transport aircraft of the 223rd flight. Between August 2018 and February 2019, two 223th flight aircraft completed at least nine flights to Khartoum. One of these planes took Bashir to his controversial visit to Syria last December, the first of an Arab leader since the start of the Syrian uprising in 2011.

Russia has also stepped up its presence in the neighboring Central African Republic and sent convoys from here Deliveries across the border.

Whether Sudan plays a central role in Russia's ambitions in Africa depends on the evolving situation in Khartoum. Moscow will not give up easily. It is closely linked to the Sudanese military, which is now at the helm – even if Bashir, who calls Prigozhin a "wise and balanced politician," is now in a high security prison.

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