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

At the same time, a more intricate strategy was developed – one that involved spreading inaccurate social media information, blaming Israel for raising concerns and also carrying out public executions to make an example of "plundering". [19659002] The author of this strategy was not the Sudanese government. According to documents seen by CNN, a Russian company tied to an oligarch favored by the Kremlin: Yevgeny Prigozhin.Several governments and military sources in Khartoum have confirmed to CNN that Basjir's government received the proposals and began to act on them before depositing Bashir in a coup earlier this month. An official from the former regime said that Russian advisers monitored the protests and began drafting a plan to counter them with what he called "minimal but acceptable life loss".While the documents did not come from official Russian authorities, they were essentially a plan to protect the Kremlin's interests in Sudan and hold Bashir in power. The documents that CNN, which contains letters and internal corporate communications, are among several thousands obtained and examined by the London-based Dossier Center, run by condemned Russian businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Dossiercentralen receives data, documents and other information from a variety of sources, often anonymous, and shares them with journalists. Khodorkovsky ran off President Vladimir Putin after claiming extensive corruption in Russia and spent several years in prison for alleged tax fraud &#821 1; which he has always denied. CNN has considered the documents credible. They are also consistent with testimonies saying that Russian observers are seen in…

At the same time, a more intricate strategy was developed – one that involved spreading inaccurate social media information, blaming Israel for raising concerns and also carrying out public executions to make an example of “plundering”. [19659002] The author of this strategy was not the Sudanese government. According to documents seen by CNN, a Russian company tied to an oligarch favored by the Kremlin: Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Several governments and military sources in Khartoum have confirmed to CNN that Basjir’s government received the proposals and began to act on them before depositing Bashir in a coup earlier this month. An official from the former regime said that Russian advisers monitored the protests and began drafting a plan to counter them with what he called “minimal but acceptable life loss”.

While the documents did not come from official Russian authorities, they were essentially a plan to protect the Kremlin’s interests in Sudan and hold Bashir in power.

The documents that CNN, which contains letters and internal corporate communications, are among several thousands obtained and examined by the London-based Dossier Center, run by condemned Russian businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Dossiercentralen receives data, documents and other information from a variety of sources, often anonymous, and shares them with journalists. Khodorkovsky ran off President Vladimir Putin after claiming extensive corruption in Russia and spent several years in prison for alleged tax fraud &#821

1; which he has always denied.

CNN has considered the documents credible. They are also consistent with testimonies saying that Russian observers are seen in recent protests in Sudan.

 Police fired tear gas at protesters in Khartoum in December.

Sudan has been Moscow’s template for expanding its influence in Africa and around the world: A hybrid of private and state interests that rewards both oligarchs and the Kremlin. It is an inexpensive strategy that gives Moscow a foothold in strategic locations, without the commitment of regular forces or major investment by the Russian government. Instead, the company uses companies that provide private contractors instead of commercial concessions.

The documents that CNN has seen originate from a St. Petersburg-based company, M-Invest, which has offices in the Sudanese capital Khartoum. M-Invest lists as its core business “extraction of ore and sand of precious metals”. As CNN has previously reported, the company was granted a gold mine in Sudan.

But its business seems to have gone far beyond mining.

What Dossiercentret’s documents show

President Bashir cultivated a close relationship with the Kremlin, visiting Moscow in 2017. Russia supplied modern Su-35 fighter aircraft during the same year. Simply put, Russia had invested heavily in Bashir. As protests against the regime, steam was collected which was the risk of danger.

According to the documents reviewed by CNN, M-Invest prepared a plan to discredit and suppress these protests.

A document from the beginning of January, reviewed by CNN, suggests spreading claims that protesters attacked mosques and hospitals. It also suggested creating an image of protesters such as “enemies of Islam and traditional values” by planting LGBT flags among them. And it suggested a social media campaign that claimed “Israel supports the protesters.”

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

strategy also suggested the government “simulate a dialogue with the opposition and show the government’s openness” to “isolate protest leaders and gain time”.

M-Invest proposed ways to make the government look good – through publicly published “free distribution of bread, flour, cereals, food”.

But the bulk of its focus was on the protests. It recommended to produce evidence of “firefighting protesters against mosques, hospitals and nurseries, [and] to steal grains from the public affair.”

It also suggested blaming the West for the protests and using “extensive media coverage of the hearing of prisoners, recognizing that they came to organize civil war in Sudan.” And it also suggested “public executions of looters and other spectacular events to distract the protest-strong audience. “

CNN made several efforts to reach M-Invest. Its phone number in St. Petersburg did not work. An Arabic speaker answered a call to his office in Khartoum but hung up. CNN visited the address but was told that the space was rented to a Russian company called Mir Gold.

Another corporate document recommends that arrest leaders be arrested the day before demonstrations take place – and disseminate disinformation by saying that protesters were paid to participate. Also recommended: Show how “security forces detained a car with weapons, foreign currency, propaganda material driven by foreign nationals.”

 Protests erupted in Sudan last December.

M-Invest has also proposed to build social media to attack the protest movement, “start disputes with users and express alternative agenda … The optimal number of accounts that work in parallel – 40-50.”

In some ways, the playbook is similar to that deployed by the Internet Research Agency, which was accused by US authorities of attempting to disrupt the 2016 US election campaign.

Prigozhin – known as “Putin’s Chef” for the catering deals he held with the Kremlin – was one of 13 Russians charged as part of the investigation of Russian election mixes by US Specialist Robert Mueller. The United States claims that fictitious social media were set to polarize voters with inflammatory and, in some cases, false information. Prigozhin has denied his involvement in election mediation and has denied any connection to the Internet Research Agency. Calls to their main company, Concord Management and Consulting, went unanswered.

The documents reviewed by CNN do not indicate that the official Russian security agencies were directly involved in attempts to suppress the protests in Sudan.

Spokesman for Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova said at a press conference in January: “We are informed that some employees of Russian private security companies, who have no connection with the Russian authorities, really work in Sudan. But their functions are limited to staff training. . “

Time begins to run

Sources in Khartoum have told CNN that Bashir’s government was trying to implement some of M-Invest’s plans.

For example, it began to imprison students from the Darfur region and accused them of trying to bring in civil war – one of the ploys recommended by M-Invest. The sources say that Russian advisors from a private company were placed in several ministries and the National Intelligence Service.

But it was too little, too late.

In a letter to Bashir, prepared on March 17, Prigozhin complained that the government of Sudan “inactivity” had “provoked the intensification of the crisis.” And he added with insignificant prescription: “The new government’s lack of active action to overcome the crisis is likely to lead to even more serious political consequences.”

Another letter from Prigozhin, dated April 6, praised the long-term Sudanese ruler as a “call leader” but urged immediate economic reforms to resolve the crisis.

Five days later, Bashir is deposited.

The Military Dimension

Sudan, a resource-rich nation bordering seven other countries, has been discouraged by the West. Its Red Sea Coast was of particular interest to Moscow because of recent years by the United States and China to create a military presence in the region. Moscow has looked at the development of a sea base in Port Sudan.

Again, M-Invest was involved. In June 2018, it drafted a letter commissioned by Sudan’s military industrial corporation to pursue closer military links. It mentions a visit the previous month by the Russian Navy’s assistant commander, Secretary-General Oleg Makarevich, who discussed “the possibility of creating the territory of the Russian Navy on the territory of the navy” 19659008] M-Invest documents indicate the significance for Russia of a port in Sudan. “data-src-mini =” // cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190424095842-01-russia-sudan-minvest-plan-to-quell-protests-intl-small-169.jpg “data- src-xsmall = “// cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190424095842-01-russia-sudan-minvest-plan-to-quell-protests-intl-medium-plus-169.jpg” data-src -small = “http://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190424095842-01-russia-sudan-minvest-plan-to-quell-protests-intl-large-169.jpg” data-src- medium = “// cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190424095842-01-russia-sudan-minvest-plan-to-quell-protests-intl-exlarge-169.jpg” data-src-large = ” //cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190424095842-01-russia-sudan-minvest-plan-to-quell-protests-intl-super-169.jpg “data-src-full16x9 =” // cdn .cnn.com / cnnnext / dam / assets / 190424095842-01-russia-sudan-minvest-plan-to-quell-protests-intl-full-169.jpg “data-src-mini1x1 =” // cdn.cnn. com / cnnnext / dam / assets / 190424095842-01-russia-sudan-minvest-plan-to-quell-protests-intl-small-11.jpg “data-demand-load =” not-loaded “data-eq-pts = “mini: 0, xsmall: 221, small: 308, medium: 461, large: 781 “src =” data: image / gif; base64; in Sudan. ” class=”media__image” src=”http://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190424095842-01-russia-sudan-minvest-plan-to-quell-protests-intl-large-169.jpg”/>

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