Wagner theme

Russia-Mali: Who is spreading Moscow’s soft power in Bamako?

By Bokar Sangaré, Fatoumata Diallo

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Posted on November 25, 2021 13:34

Firefox_Screenshot_2021-11-24T16-33-33.195Z © Anti-French demonstration in Bamako, 27 May 2021. Michele Cattani/AFP
Anti-French demonstration in Bamako, 27 May 2021. Michele Cattani/AFP

The announcement that the Russian security company Wagner may be arriving in Mali is causing controversy. However, this is only the latest act in the discreet and determined media offensive that Moscow is conducting in the country, which greatly displeases France.

At 2pm on 29 October, the tar was burning in Bamako. As the mosques emptied, thousands of people gathered at Independence Square. In the processions that led them to the rallying point, the Russian flag accompanied the national colours. The words ‘France, get out’ and The Malians’ slogan ‘Long live the Russians’ appeared on some of the posters and signs that the demonstrators proudly brandished.

Hostile slogans

Hostile slogans against France and the Barkhane military force punctuated the sovereignist speeches, which glorified Assimi Goïta, the transition government’s president. Independence Square and its surroundings became crowded. There had not been a gathering of this size since the fall of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta (IBK) on 18 August 2020.

This time, the demonstrators were not hitting the streets to protest against a regime, but rather to express support for the transition

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