Russian tycoon Yevgeny Prigozhin has offered to erect a tombstone for three Russian journalists who were killed in the Central African Republic while investigating a secretive mercenary group linked to him.
Kirill Radchenko, Alexander Rastorguyev and Orkhan Dzhemal were shot and killed on July 30, 2018, while investigating the activities of the Wagner private military contractor. A media investigation funded by the exiled tycoon, who also financed the journalists’ ill-fated trip, linked their deaths to Wagner and Prigozhin.
Prigozhin proposed paying for a monument to the men at the site of their murder, which he said has recently been cleared of rebel forces, his company’s press service said Friday.
“The monument will become a symbol of the Central African Republic people’s long-term struggle against gangs and a memorial to their victims,” it said in a statement on social media.
The company, Concord, attached an undated letter containing the proposal addressed to the Central African Republic’s culture minister.
Prigozhin’s ties to Wagner have been reported to be through its commander Dmitry Utkin, who was also appointed executive of the tycoon’s catering business in 2017. Prigozhin is widely known as “Putin’s chef” because of his catering work for the Kremlin.
Prigozhin and Concord are under U.S. sanctions for 2016 election interference, which Russia denies.
Wagner’s activities have also been reported in eastern Ukraine, Syria and Libya. The Kremlin denies that Wagner contractors operate under official orders.
Russian investigators and the Foreign Ministry have said that Radchenko, Rastorguyev and Dzhemal were killed while resisting a robbery attempt. The slain reporters’ colleagues and relatives have questioned the robbery theory.