A Russian citizen closely linked to the Wagner group led by Yevgeny Prigozhin has been injured in an assassination attempt in the Central African Republic, according to Prigozhin and Russian officials.
Dmitry Syty, who runs the “Russian House” in the capital of CAR, Bangui, received a package which exploded in his hands, according to the press service of Concord, Prigozhin’s holding company.
Prigozhin said that Syty’s last words before falling unconscious and taken to hospital were:
“I saw a note: ‘This is for you from all the French, the Russians will get out of Africa.’”
Wagner’s presence in the CAR, where it has trained and fought with the local armed forces, has been controversial. CNN investigations have linked Wagner and associated entities with the lucrative diamond trade in central Africa as well as multiple human rights abuses in the country, where the army has been fighting a number of rebel factions.
A CNN team met with Syty in 2019, when he was involved in mediating between the CAR government and rebel groups. He was also the founder of a diamond company linked to Prigozhin’s business empire.
Prigozhin accused France of being behind the attack on Syty.
“On February 1, 2022, the “Russian House” was opened in the Central African Republic, which for hundreds of years was oppressed by the French, who destroyed the population and plundered the wealth of the Central African Republic. It was headed by a patriot of Russia and the Central African Republic, Dmitry Syty,” he said.
“On November 11, Dmitry Syty received a package from Togo containing a photograph of his son, who lives in France. It contained a note saying that next time he would receive his son’s head if “the Russians do not get out of the African continent and open the doors for the French.”
Prigozhin said: “Today he got another package. Despite all the instructions for observing security measures, Dmitry Syty, being in the heat of the moment and thinking that the head of his son was in the package, opened it. There was an explosion.”
CNN is unable to confirm Prigozhin’s allegations.
“I have already applied to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation so that it initiates the procedure for declaring France a state sponsor of terrorism, as well as conducting a thorough investigation of the terrorist methods of France and its Western allies — the United States and others.”
A Russian group in CAR associated with the Russian House in Bangui said Syty’s “condition is serious and doctors are fighting for his life.”
The official Russian news agency TASS quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov as saying: “The assassination attempt on the head of the Russian house in the Central African Republic is an inhuman terrorist act that requires strong condemnation.”
He said: “Russia will make every effort to find the organizers of the assassination attempt on the head of the Russian House in the Central African Republic. The Russian Federation will not show fear of terrorists and will not close the Russian House in the Central African Republic.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry said it “strongly condemn[s] this criminal act, which is clearly aimed at hindering the activities of the Russia House in Bangui, and more broadly, harming the successful development of friendly relations between our two countries.”
“We hope that as a result of an operational investigation by the competent authorities of the Central African Republic, those responsible for organizing and committing this atrocity will be identified and punished,” the ministry added.
Uliana Pavlova contributed reporting to this post.