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New film shines light on Russian military contractors in CAR

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Central African Republic

Thousands of people flocked Bangui's main stadium to attend the premiere of a Russian-Central African production. 

The "Tourist" focuses on the role of military contractors dispatched by Moscow to train Bangui's security forces - in pacifying the country torn apart by years of fighting.

"I must tell you that during the work of the Russian inspectors, they were able to train the Central African Army very well. They displayed their combat capability," said Alexandre Ivanov who represented the head of the instructors at the event. 

President Faustin-Archange Touadera's government largely relies on Russian fighters and a 12,000 strong UN peacekeeping force for protection from dozens of armed groups that roam the vast country.

Russian influence in CAR

The film is a further sign of the deepening ties between Russia and the Central African Republic, which have become the envy of former colonial ruler France. 

In 2020, Facebook said it had removed hundreds of French and Russian accounts it accused of running disinformation campaigns in the African country. 

In 2017, Russia secured an exemption from the United Nations, despite an existing arms embargo, to deliver weapons to the CAR. 

President Touadera had argued successfully that the arms were denied to protect civilians. 

In July 2018, President Vladimir Putin sent the first Russian military advisers and mercenaries to Bangui to train Central African soldiers and protect top government officials.

The events have jolted Paris which is concerned about its waning influence in the troubled country.

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