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Prigozhin Bankrolls New movie for Russian “Trainers” in Mozambique

by Stewart Cole

A new film backed by Kremlin-linked catering tycoon Yevgeny Prigozhin depicts a group of Russian “military trainers” invited to Mozambique to fight Islamic State-linked insurgents in the north of the country.

“Granit”, which will premiere next Tuesday on the pro-government channel NTV, is produced by Aurum, a company in which Prigozhin holds a significant stake, according to the Russian public registry.

The film – the trailer of which is said to be dedicated to “Our Russian Guys” – depicts real-life events involving Russian mercenaries who fought in Mozambique’s northern Cape Delgado region in 2019, director Dennis Neymand told The Moscow Times .

“The film is based entirely on a Russian private military company in Mozambique. “It all happened in real life,” said Neymand, who also confirmed that Aurum had commissioned the film.

The Moscow Times, along with other media outlets, reported earlier that hundreds of Russian soldiers fighting for the private military company Wagner were deployed in Mozambique, with at least seven of them was killed by Islamist guerrillas.

Units of the Wagner secret group have appeared in several conflict zones, allegedly serving Russian private and state interests in Ukraine, Syria and Libya. The group has recently stepped up its efforts on the African continent, fighting in Mozambique and the Central African Republic and reportedly guest in Mali this fall.

Neymand said it was “no secret” during filming that the mercenaries on whom the film is based belonged to the Wagner team.

“But we did not name them in the film because it does not matter which private military company operates there. “The film shows how the Russians are helping the Africans against the evil forces,” he said, adding that the film was shot in the Central African Republic, where Russia has a military presence.

The Kremlin in 2019 denied that Russian troops were active in Mozambique, while Prigogine has repeatedly stated that he has no ties to Wagner and has sued the media for reference his alleged connections to the mercenary group.

However, some recent films produced by companies affiliated with Prigozhin, such as Aurum and the St. Petersburg-based Paritet Film studio, depict Russian “trainers” fighting eastern Ukraine and Republic of Central Africa – places where Wagner fighters have also been reported to be active. These films – which largely share the same acting crew – seem to shed more light on Prigozhin’s ties to Wagner.

The EU imposed sanctions on the group earlier this month destabilizing Ukraine and parts of Africa.

Prigogine was not immediately available for comment.

Aurum was also behind “The Tourist,” which tells the story of a group of young Russian military advisers sent to CAR on the eve of the 2020 presidential election. Numerous NGOs as well as independent UN observers they say that these trainers are actually paramilitaries from the Wagner team. A March report by a group of independent UN experts reported that Wagner’s mercenaries have committed human rights violations in CAR.

Aurum owns additional distribution rights to the film “Sougalei”, a film also directed by Neymand that claims to tell the true story of Maxim Shugalei, a Russian political agent believed to be close to Prigozhin, who has spent time in a Libyan prison on charges of meddling in the country’s internal affairs.

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