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I UNDERSTAND
English Section

"Different 'Bucha.' Russian crimes in Mali:" statement

17.05.2022 11:45
Statement by Stanisław Żaryn, spokesman for Poland’s security services:
Stanisław Żaryn, director of the National Security Department at the Polish Prime Ministers Office and a spokesman for Polands security services.
Stanisław Żaryn, director of the National Security Department at the Polish Prime Minister’s Office and a spokesman for Poland’s security services.Photo: PAP/Rafał Guz

Russian war crimes and terror against civilians are no coincidence. These are typical actions of Russia's imperial policy. This is evidenced by the dramatic reports from Ukraine, but also by the events in Mali, where Russian barbarism is also becoming more and more visible.

Internal situation in Mali remains unstable while witnesses, correspondents and human rights organizations report on an unprecedented scale of aggression, especially after Russian mercenaries appeared in the country. On the one hand, jihadist rebels remain active there and on the other, members of the Wagner Group, renowned for their cruelty, give their support to the Malian army in combat against the Islamists. The role and activity of the Wagner Group have increased after France announced the withdrawal of its troops. There are incoming reports of more and more cruel acts of aggression, mass graves and killings perpetrated by the Malian troops together with Russian mercenaries. While claiming they combat jihadists and their collaborators, Russians commit acts of aggression and crimes.

The biggest massacre so far is believed to happened in March in Moura, a village situated in the central part of the country where mass killings of local population were perpetrated. Members of the Wagner Group, who are supposed to combat jihadists in Mali, are accused of committing this crime, in which at least 300 civilians were killed. Witnesses are talking about mass arrests among civilians, tortures and executions. They are also reporting that at least 100 soldiers speaking Russian were present on the site. The region where Moura is located is described as a centre of Islamists but this is no excuse for such horrific slaughter or even ethnic cleansing.

There have been reports on the Wagner Group’s acts of atrocities in at least 9 places and together about 500 people are said to have been killed. According to witnesses, there was also a mass killing in the village of Hambori and all the time new mass graves are being discovered. The Wagner Group is also trying to use the killings it perpetrates to put the blame on the French army, withdrawing form Mali.

What is happening in Mali, with Russian mercenaries’ support, is not an accident, but deliberate tactics and an action typical for the Putin’s criminal regime.  As it is in the case of the „special operation” in Ukraine, the same applies to the combat with Islamists in Mali: Russia imposes terror, intimidates population with unspeakable cruelty and perpetrates mass crimes. There is a reason why world media describe the crimes in Mali as „another Bucha”: in both cases civilians were killed and their bodies buried in mass graves.

Committing crimes constitute one of the elements of a campaign of terror and aggression that has been conducted in Mali since the appearance of Russian mercenaries. Simultaneously, what is also characteristic of Russian actions, disinformation operations are carried out, which also confirms that actions undertaken by Russians are not accidental. The objective of Russian propaganda is to discredit Western countries and to portray Russia as a power guaranteeing peace and stability. But by committing crimes, Russians once again have shown their true face. In Mali – as in Ukraine – they are not liberators or allies assuring help, but aggressors posing a threat to civilians.

Stanisław Żaryn

Director of the National Security Department

Spokesman for Poland’s Minister-Special Services Coordinator