Russian injured in Africa expected ‘parcel with son’s head’ – Prigozhin

A Russian official serving in the Central African Republic (CAR), who was injured on Friday, ignored safety precautions because he feared that people threatening his family would send him his son’s head in a box, Russian entrepreneur Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed on Friday.

Dmitry Sytyy, who heads the local branch of a network of cultural centers under the Russian Foreign Ministry, was rushed to hospital after a parcel bomb reportedly exploded in his hands. Details of the incident were first shared by a Russian officers’ organization, which claims to train Central African troops under a Moscow-mediated contract. Prigozhin is linked to the ‘Wagner group’, a private military company, which he claims he created in 2014 to further Russian interests.

The businessman claimed that in November Sytnyy received a note from Togo, which like CAR, is a former French colony. The message included a photo of the man’s son, who lives in France, and a threat to send his severed head “unless the Russians leave the African continent and open the doors to the French”, Prigozhin claimed in a statement published by the press office of his company, Concord.

“Today he received a parcel. Despite all safety instructions, Dmitry Sytyy opened it in a state of anguish, thinking that it contained his son’s head. An explosion followed,” the businessman said.

Prigozhin accused Paris of being behind the blast and urged Russia to investigate it, and potentially designate France a state sponsor of terrorism.

The US has reportedly considered declaring the Wagner group a terrorist organization, in a bid to put more pressure on Russia. Western nations, including France, have been complaining about the group’s activities in other nations, particularly African ones.

French President Emmanuel Macron lashed out at Wagner in February, accusing it of having “predatory intentions” for the continent, specifically in another former French colony, Mali.

This week, Paris pulled out its last 130 soldiers from CAR, its Defense Ministry announced on Thursday. France deployed hundreds of troops in the country in the wake of the 2013 armed coup and civil war, which was the seventh French military mission in the country since it declared its independence in the 1960s. It formally ended Operation Sangaris in 2016, but left a residual military presence.