En Centrafrique, la bière Castel au cœur de la guerre d’influence entre Paris et Moscou

After the criminal fire of the Mocaf brasserie, sources accuse the Wagner group, while pro-Russian media evoke “mercenaries” paid by France.

the world with AFP

During the night of March 5 to 6 in Bangui, surveillance cameras film four men masked in outfits similar to those of the Russian mercenaries of the Wagner group, throwing Molotov cocktails on the Mocaf brasserie, the French alcohol giant Castel. And this three months after a trapped package injured in the capital the Russian “cultural advisor” Dmitri Syty, “one of the pillars of the Wagner system in the Central African Republic”, according to the International Collective of Investigation All Eyes On Wagner. Attack on which the head of this private security company, Evguéni Prigojine, very close to Vladimir Putin, accuses France. Who denies and speaks of “propaganda”.

The Franco-Russian war of influence in the Central African Republic, a country among the poorest in the world in civil war for almost ten years, was previously circumscribed to massive trolls on social networks. It moves on dangerous terrain. Especially since Bangui, with the most execrable relations with the old colonial power, multiplies the gestures of appeasement, including a meeting in early March between the two presidents, Emmanuel Macron and Faustin-Touadéra. “The Russians are concerned about a possible rapprochement of Touadéra with Westerners and go as far as possible to prevent reconciliation”, analysis for AFP Roland Marchal, researcher at Sciences Po Paris and specialist in Africa.

The reciprocal accusation campaigns between Paris and Moscow in the Central African Republic have been raging since 2018, so that Facebook deleted in December 2020 factories with trolls and other “infox” supports administered by the Galaxy Prigojine; But also, according to her, certain accounts related to the French army, whose last soldiers left the country on December 15 after sixty-two years of presence since independence. 2> the ideal target

The video of the brasserie attack, viral on social networks and authenticated by Mocaf for AFP, is a new vector of this war of influence. Castel is an ideal target, since it is the subject of a preliminary investigation of French anti -terrorism justice for “complicity of war crimes”, via an alleged “financial arrangement” with rebels to secure the facilities of a Another subsidiary, SUCAF. Since January, the Mocaf, inaugurated in 1953 and one of the largest employers in the country, was the target of denigration and threat campaigns, on the street and on the Internet. “Castel is death”, “If you buy Castel, you pay your murder,” read the signs of around twenty demonstrators in front of the mid-January brasserie. “Castel = terrorist,” proclaimed posters elsewhere.