Documents found in an archive of leaked US intelligence evidence suggest that in February 2023, Russian intelligence planned an information campaign to change public opinion in African countries regarding the war in Ukraine. The New York Times writes about it.
As part of this initiative, popular African bloggers, online media, and television channels are spreading Russian disinformation. Some of these media are directly related to PMC Wagner and Yevgeny Prigozhin, whose mercenaries are fighting in Africa.
The publication gives several examples of how Russian propaganda works in African countries.
The Cameroonian television channel Afrique Média, with a multi-million audience, has signed an agreement with RT. On-air commentators read out speeches in support of Russia's attack on Ukraine. One of them recently ended his speech with the words “Glory to Putin!”.
Popular blogger @mmodiba10, who has 148,000 followers, recently changed his Twitter name to Vladimir in honor of the Russian president. He distributes pro-Russian content both on this social network and on his Telegram channel.
In the African segment of social networks, a video has gone viral in which the brave militant of Wagner PMC helps West African soldiers "repel the invasion of zombies from France." It uses an "anti-colonialist" narrative designed to present modern Western countries as still colonial powers oppressing the peoples of Africa.
At the same time, Western media are gradually reducing their staff and curtailing operations on this continent. Thus, the BBC, as part of the reorganization, closed at least three of its channels broadcasting in African languages, and fired several dozen journalists.
Radio France Internationale and France 24 temporarily ceased their presence in Mali and Burkina Faso due to persecution by the authorities. All this creates a fertile ground for the promotion of pro-Russian narratives.
The NYT quotes Abdul Guindo, coordinator of the Malian fact-checking website Benbere, as saying that “Russian fake news is produced [in Mali] on an industrial scale.”
Recently, "anti-colonial" rhetoric is increasingly found in the statements of Russian officials. It is also used by Vladimir Putin, who declares that "the level of prosperity achieved in the former colonial powers is based on the robbery of Africa." Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in turn, often visited African countries, trying to establish partnerships with them.