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Russia-Africa: who is organising the Sochi Summit?

By Joséphine Dedet
Posted on Monday, 26 August 2019 17:57, updated on Tuesday, 8 October 2019 14:35

Russian President Vladimir Putin on 24 July 2019 in Moscow. Mikhail Klimentyev/AP/SIPA

From 22 to 24 October, Sochi will host the first ever Russia-Africa Summit. We take a look at the who's who behind the event.

The Diplomats

Sergei Lavrov (69)

Serguei Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia © Denis ALLARD/REA

Minister of Foreign Affairs since 2004, Lavrov has established privileged relations with African Heads of State and Ministers. He is well acquainted with the workings of the United Nations, where he was the Russian representative from 1994 to 2004. Sometimes cheerful and charming, sometimes angry and stubborn, he likes Scotch whisky, Italian cuisine, and rafting. His motto is taken from the words of the anthem of the Moscow Institute of International Relations (which he wrote in 1998): “Do not bend and get to the point.”

Mikhail Bogdanov (67)

Mikhaïl Bogdanov © UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferrénis ALLARD/REA

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs since 2011 and President Putin’s Special Envoy to the Middle East and Africa since 2012. A keen basketball fan, he was posted to Yemen, Lebanon, and Syria before being appointed as Ambassador to Israel (1997-2002) and Egypt (2005-2011). His predecessor, Mikhail Marguelov, had a more sub-Saharan fibre, but this Arabic speaker has become Africanized as he’s travelled.

Andrei Kemarski (64)

Head of the Sub-Saharan Africa Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kemarski is fluent in Portuguese and English. He was Ambassador to Angola and São Tomé and Príncipe (2002-2007), then to Mozambique and Eswatini (2010-2017). Last January, he participated in the Khartoum conference on conflict resolution in Central Africa.

Alexandre Kinchtchakak (56)

Alexander Kinshchak © Valery SharifulinTASS via Getty Images

Director of the Middle East and North Africa Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kinchtchakak was formerly Counsellor at the Iraqi Embassy (2002-2004) and Ambassador to Kuwait (2008-2013) and Syria (2014-2018).

The Thinkers

Irina Abramova (57)

Irina Abramova speaking at the Afreximbank Annual Meetings © Andrew Lubimov/Roscongress

The Arabic-speaking economist has been Director of the Institute of African Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow since 2016. She is the author of numerous studies on Africa’s place in the new global economy.

Andrei Maslov (39)

Andreï Maslov © Valdai Discussion Club

Founder of the consulting firm RAEx, which advises Russian investors in Africa, Maslov has also worked in the past for the Russian Foreign Trade Bank, Gazprom in Nigeria, and the diamond group, Alrosa. He embodies the new generation of Russian Africanists, oriented towards the business world.

Alexei Vasiliev (80)

Alexeï Vassiliev © Presidential Press Office

The Honorary President of the Institute of African Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences is a veteran of the African scene. He was the Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for relations with Africa from 2006 to 2011. His speciality is Egypt, where he served as a Pravda correspondent during Soviet times. Together with Andreï Maslov and Evgueni Korendyasov (former ambassador to Mali and Burkina Faso), he is one of the coordinators of the “Russia-Africa Report: A common vision for 2030”, to be presented at the Sochi Summit.

The organisers

Yuri Yushakov (72)

Ambassador to Russia Pankaj Saran (L) and Russian Presidential Aide Yuri Ushakov at a ceremony to sign joint Russian-Indian documents on the sidelines of the 2017 St Petersburg International Economic Forum [SPIEF 2017]. Sergei Savostyanov/TASS Host Photo Agency. © Photo12/Alamy
Ambassador to the United States from 1998 to 2008, Yushako has been Putin’s diplomatic adviser since 2012, accompanying him on all his travels and assisting him in his meetings with foreign leaders. He has also represented Russia at the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), NATO and the EU. He is not an expert on Africa, but a faithful among Putin’s followers, which is why he is in charge of organizing the Sochi summit, with the help of Anton Kobyakov, also an advisor to the Kremlin.

Alexandre Stouglev

Alexandre Stouglev © Alexandr Drozdov/Roscongress

Stouglev is the Patron of the Roscongress Foundation, which seeks to develop Russia’s “economic potential and promote its interests and image” through international events, such as the Sochi Summit and Economic Forum (23-24 October). Hailing from St. Petersburg, his mantra is “Success, stress, gratitude, and work.”

The hawks

Dmitri Shugaev (54)

Former Chief of Staff for Director General of Rosoboronexport State Corporation, Dmitry Shugaev. Photo: RIAC

Head of the Federal Service for Military Technical Cooperation (FSVTS), Shugaev is in charge of arms contracts. Military cooperation agreements are the responsibility of Sergei Choïgou, the Minister of Defence.

Nikolai Patrouchev (68)

Secretary of the Security Council of Russia, Nikolai Patrushev / Photo: Russian Presidency

Secretary of the National Security Council, Patrouchev, the general who headed the FSB (secret services) from 1999 to 2008, remains, in practice, an intelligence coordinator. In this capacity, he is in charge of security and anti-terrorist issues, organizes forums, and acts as Putin’s emissary to certain leaders, such as Mohammed VI, Mahmoud Abbas, and Benyamin Netanyahu. A tough negotiator and ardent nationalist, he is considered an anti-American “falcon”. One of his sons is Minister of Agriculture and the other is the Deputy Director-General of Gazprom.

This article first appeared on Jeune Afrique.

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