Russian Director, Journalists Killed in Africa While Filming Documentary

Alexander Rastorguev - Screengrab - H 2018
YouTube screengrab

Filmmaker and Putin critic Alexander Rastorguev, alongside cameraman Kirill Radchenko and reporter Orhan Dzhemal, were reportedly making a film about Russian mercenaries operating in the Central African Republic.

Alexander Rastorguev, a prominent Russian documentary filmmaker and critic of President Vladimir Putin, was killed in the Central African Republic alongside cameraman Kirill Radchenko and reporter Orhan Dzhemal while filming a new documentary.

The news was reported by several Russian sources. The Russian foreign ministry confirmed the death of three people with identification documents that belonged to Rastorguev, Dzhemal and Radchenko.

The three men were found dead outside the city of Sibut, located 188 kilometres north of the Central African Republic's capital Bangui, the ministry said.

Rastorguev, Dzhemal and Radchenko were reportedly making a documentary about Wagner, a Russian private military firm, for the Investigation Control Center, an investigative journalism organization, founded by exiled former tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Wagner contractors reportedly carried out clandestine military operations in Syria and East Ukraine on the Kremlin's orders, but Russian authorities have denied that.

Wagner is reportedly tied to Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close associate of Putin, CBS News reported earlier. Prigozhin has also been linked to a Russian trolling factory that allegedly targeted American voters in the 2016 presidential campaign.

While details about the killing of the three Russians are still sketchy, Sibut's mayor Henri Depele was quoted by Reuters as saying that they were ambushed by armed men who opened fire on their vehicle and that their driver survived.

Rastorguev was known for documentaries that were highly critical of Putin's regime, such as Srok (The Term), which chronicled the Russian opposition movement.