The Russian mercenary army Wagner, deeply involved in the invasion of Ukraine, markets "blood diamonds" around the world through a company in the Central African Republic, including Europe, according to a journalistic investigation published this Friday by the consortium European Collaborations of Research (EIC).
Several people linked to the Russian private military company allied to the Kremlin created a diamond export office in 2019 in the Central African Republic, whose volume of activity is officially very modest, but which according to various players in the sector consulted by the EIC consortium is actually " an expanding system of predation", according to the French-speaking newspaper "Le Soir", which, together with the flamento newspaper "De Standaard", publishes this research in Belgium.
The investigation establishes that Diamville, a discreet Central African import-export company, is an offshoot of the Wagner group, headed by Russian businessman Evgeni Prigojine, close to Vladimir Putin, and considered the unofficial armed wing of the Kremlin abroad. The group has collaborated with the Russian government in the Syrian war and is known to operate in several African countries, officially on contract with their governments. In addition, it participates from the beginning in the war in Ukraine.
Most of the diamond sales reportedly took place online, via the Facebook page "Lanadiamanter", but official figures on Diamville reveal that while most of the diamonds officially sold went to Dubai, some were also destined for Europe.
In October 2019, according to official export figures established by the Central African government, the company linked to Wagner exported 296 carats to Antwerp (Belgium), a city known for its diamond-related businesses.
All the investigations carried out by the consortium of European media, both on the connections of those responsible for Diamville and Lanadiamanter and with sources from the sector who work or have worked in the Central African Republic in recent years, confirm the link of both with the Wagner group. .
The Facebook page "Lanadiamanter" does not specify the origin of the products offered for sale.
The so-called Kimberley Process, an international agreement between states, diamond professionals and civil society organizations established in 2003 to combat the trade in so-called "blood minerals", lists the eight sub-prefectures of the Central African Republic where the Diamonds can be mined without the risk of helping to finance the war.
The sources consulted by the investigation consortium assure that Diamville operates in areas not authorized by the Kimberley Process and most of the time "through practices outside the law."
The sources cited by the investigation also ensure that Diamville extended its networks to private collectors in order to expand its diamond trade.
The ban on Russian diamond imports is not yet part of the sanctions adopted by the European Union against Russia for its war in Ukraine.
Since December 2021, the private military company Wagner has been included in another list of European sanctions due to "serious violations and abuses in the field of human rights" committed by its employees, including in the Central African Republic. Therefore, as of that date, European companies and individuals are prohibited from doing business with Wagner.
Last October, the Western powers in the UN Security Council, led by the United States, accused Russia of using mercenaries to exploit natural resources in African countries, something Moscow denied.
Many Western countries are increasingly concerned about the actions of the Wagner Group, which is present in several African countries by virtue of agreements signed with their governments.
In October, the United States denounced a "strategy to exploit the natural resources of the Central African Republic, Mali, Sudan and other countries" by Russia and assured that these actions are "thoroughly documented" and "irrefutable".
The profits "illegally obtained are used to finance Moscow's war machine in Africa, the Middle East and Ukraine," the United States already assured then, accusing the mercenary company of "exploiting" these states that pay for their services with gold, diamonds, timber and other natural resources.