Downtown Bangui holds no secrets for them. In their pick-up, an armored vehicle of gray color which displays no registration, Dimitri Sytyi et Vitali Perfilev do not go unnoticed by the most attentive eyes. Admittedly, the two men regularly change their means of transport and brand of 4×4, but their faces are well known to insiders. One, Perfilev, a tall blond, is the operational chief of the mercenaries of the Wagner group in the Central African Republic. The other, Sytyi, a young man with wavy brown hair who has lived in Bangui for four years, is its master propagandist and political bridgehead.
Russia-Africa: the shadow of Wagner’s mercenaries
Dimitri Sytyi, who has long been the assistant of Valery Zakharov, Wagner’s first boss on Central African soil, is at home in the presidential palace. According to our information, he still unofficially heads a communication unit there which is responsible for promoting the actions of the president. Faustin-Archange Touadera, to enhance cooperation with Russia and undermine French interests or the staff of the UN mission in the Central African Republic (Minusca). Sytyi is today Wagner’s “civilian” number one in Bangui.
Vitali Perfilev, meanwhile, is officially in charge of questions of security, in liaison with the Central African general staff, Faustin-Archange Touadéra and his Minister of Defence, Jean-Claude Rameaux-Bireau. Adviser to the presidency, like Zakharov before him, he has an office not far from the palace, even if he prefers to receive people in his premises located at the Roux camp, a space where some of Wagner’s equipment is stored. . On the leisure side, the commander is a regular at Le Casablanca bar-restaurant and its karaoke, as well as a red wine lover. Together, Perfilev and Sytyi control Wagner’s apparatus, which today stretches from Bangui to Douala.
Coffee, sugar and Fulani mercenaries
Since 2018, Wagner’s mercenaries have been established in the mining sector, particularly in gold and diamonds, in particular through the company Lobaye Invest, which has operating permits in several regions of the country. From this “parent company”, financially controlled by a nebula of companies attached to the oligarch Yevgeny Prigojine, they gradually penetrated into other parts of the local economy. This year, Wagner has thus invested in the Central African forest sector via the company Bois Rouge. According to our information, the group is also working to develop subsidiaries in other sectors.
Wagner seeks to export coffee and eventually sugar from the Central African Republic
The mercenary group thus created, about a year ago, the First Industrial Company, a company linked to Lobaye Invest which operates in the food industry. Vitali Perfilev and his men – in particular a certain Roman, in charge of this aspect of Wagnerian activity – are thus eyeing local coffee production in the Lobaye prefecture and above all aim to integrate the sugar business, replacing the opportunity at Sucaf, a subsidiary of the Somdiaa group and the French Castel. In certain areas of the north of the country, Wagner would benefit in particular from attacks by former rebels of the Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC) ofAli Darassa against the sites of the sugar company to pose as a second term of an alternative.
According to our information, Wagner would have made agreements with the Minister of Livestock, Hassan Bouba, former right-hand man of Ali Darassa. Bouba has maintained valuable contacts among Fulani fighters and is able to recruit among those who have recently left the UPC. Since the stalemate of the war in Ukraine and the establishment of the group in Mali, Wagner would have thus engaged through him and that of his right arms, Idriss Maloum et Hamadou Tanga, about 300 ex-upécistes to replace mercenaries redeployed in the Sahel or in the Ukrainian Donbass. Hassan Bouba is one of the personalities who benefit the most from the protection of Wagner’s Russians in Bangui, even though he is under investigation by the Central African justice system for suspicion of war crimes. As for Maloum and Tanga, they frequently accompany Perfilev on the pitch.
How does Wagner manage to collect the income from this sprawling business? According to our information, the goods transit through the port of Douala. Wagner thus took control of a company called International Global Logistics (IGL). Founded by Central African Anour Madjido, the latter first had the group of mercenaries as a “simple” client, before being engulfed by the latter more recently. At present, IGL is unofficially controlled by a man named Nikolai, who works from the Cameroonian economic capital in close contact with Roman and Vitali Perfilev in Bangui. According to our sources, the company ensures the transit of goods and containers via the autonomous port of Douala, Anour Madjido carrying out all the administrative formalities.
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Operating exclusively with a cash-based system, which passes through opaque networks between the PK5 markets in Bangui and Congo in Douala, the Central African intermediary reports to Nikolaï. It is the latter who oversees the organization in the name of Vitali Perfilev and organizes the supply. Roman and Nikolaï notably supervised the installation, in the Cameroonian economic capital, of a Central African coffee roasting plant. The processed goods will then have to be shipped abroad – notably to Russia – via the autonomous port of Douala.
The latter also serves as a hub for the import of raw materials and equipment. In addition to the machines necessary for the exploitation of wood or minerals, Wagner thus buys from Douala products such as low-cost alcohol from Nigeria. Once in the hands of the First Industrial Company and processed, it is then sold as “vodka” in the Central African Republic, especially in the streets of Bangui. In the form of a 200 milliliter sachet, this drink with potentially harmful effects costs 200 CFA francs (0.30 euros), while the 75 centiliter bottle is worth 7,500. of their health know it, to fill the coffers of Wagner.