Russian teams bribed Madagascar presidential candidates, BBC claims

Marc Ravalomanana Andry RajoelinaTeams of “Russian technical specialists” bribed several leading candidates in last year’s presidential elections in Madagascar, in an effort to influence the outcome, according to an investigation by the BBC. The 2018 presidential campaign was among the most closely fought in Madagascar’s 60-year post-independence history. The electorate’s attention concentrated mostly on two former presidents, Marc Ravalomanana, and Andry Rajoelina. Following a closely contested second round in late December, Rajoelina was elected president, having received 500,000 votes more than his opponent. Since his election, Rajoelina has promoted closer ties with Russia. Most notably, he has strengthened his country’s military cooperation with Moscow —a process that was initiated by his predecessor in October of last year.

But a new investigation by the BBC suggests there was a “systematic and coordinated operation” by a group of Russian businessmen with ties to the Kremlin to help Rajoelina get elected. There were “clear signs of Russian meddling in the polls”, claims the BBC, adding that at least six leading candidates in the election were offered money by the Russians to support rival candidates in the second round of the elections. Among them was Andre Mailhol, a Christian pastor who ran for president and ended up in fourth place with around 60,000 votes. He told the BBC that a group of Russians paid his deposit to run in the election and funded his campaign. In return, they asked that he would support their preferred candidate in the second round of the elections. Mailhol said that the Russians made him sign a contract promising to do as he was told.

The BBC claims that the payments to several presidential candidates were made by “dozens of Russians” who are central figures in Madagascar’s business community. They allegedly include Andrei Kramar and Roman Pozdnyakov, who live permanently in the island country. Other alleged accomplices are diamond trader Vladimir Boyarishchev, as well as Maksim Shugaley, a political campaign manager who lives in Russia. The BBC claims that their activities were funded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Kremlin operative who has been indicted in the United States for his alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election. Prigozhin has allegedly been financing “teams of Russian technical specialists” to sway the results of elections in Madagascar and other African countries, according to the BBC.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 08 April 2019 | Permalink

One Response to Russian teams bribed Madagascar presidential candidates, BBC claims

  1. Daniel For-Me says:

    In 2016, Russia helped a political party named LDS to win the parliamentary elections in Seychelles and ensured that the sitting President had to abdicate in favour of their preferred candidate, the Vice President. The Russians
    1) funded the LDS campaign and its candidates,
    2) funded and engineered the destabilisation of the sitting President in favour of his Vice President, who was educated in Cuba and Moscow
    3) ensured that the new Vice President selected was a former Minister who had also been educated in Moscow and had been on their payroll in Seychelles for many years.

    They achieved this by:
    1) Financing a new opposition grouping called the LDS
    2) Creating multiple false Facebook accounts which were used to discredit and make false allegations against the older President
    3) Providing cash funds and drugs to influence voters on the run up to voting
    4) Conducting black operations e.g. the disruption of the electricity supply in the country on the run up to elections.

    The primary purpose of the Russian influence operations was to create a quiet political power coup in Seychelles which displaced the former President, who was completely commited to western style reforms in relation to the economy, the rule-of-law, independent institutions and independent courts and to replace him with a pro-Russian Cuban-educated candidate. The former President, J.A. Michel had embraced the rule of law and made it possible for Seychelles to prosecute piracy, drugs, money launderng and international crime cases in Seychelles

    The secondary purpose was to create a base for Russian influence and financing operations in Seychelles which openly flouted international standards so that they could use the jurisidiction to flout and evade multilateral sanctions against Russia, establish private company formation/banking services (using local Directors) using the Seychelles offshore sector and private investment. They also wanted to develop maritime facilities in Seychelles nder the cover of fishing facilities that could be used by russian spy trawlers and even naval vessels as a base in the Indian Ocean – something Michel had obstructed despite the lobby of a number of his compromised Ministers.

    The Russian funds to corrupt the elections were provided through two channels:
    Channel 1 – Funding the LDS
    Two companies in the Seychelles offshore sector called Intershore Consult and Apollo, both of which are closely linked to Russian organised crime and through organised crime to the Kremlin. The owners of Apollo are Russian nationals who have naturalised in Seychelles while the owner of Intershore Consult is a local lawyer called Phillippe Boulle whose offshore company has long facilitated russian criminality. Both of these companies are linked to multiple international criminal investigations because of the companies they have set up in Seychelles which are used by criminals in Russia from a criminal and State background. They also have strong links to disgraced Latvian Bank ABLV and other Latvian and Eastern European institutions linked to dirty money. The Russians bought the Deputy Leader of the LDS, Ahmed Afif, paying him though Intershore Consult, giving him an office there and a wage when he was in political limbo after being fired by the previous government.

    Channel 2- Funding the Change in the President
    Through a number of private russian companies based in the hotel and fisheries sector in Seychelles monies were provided to thethen Cuba and Moscow-educated Vice President and Minister and other Ministers and officials (e.g. in the investment bureau and the land agencies) who were susceptible to being bought.

    THE RESULT: Russia has been able to instal its preferred President and Vice President in State House who are completely favourable towards Moscow and the Kremlin while in Parliament, their LDS party has reversed the rule-of-law, anti sanctions-breaking and anti-criminal money framework reforms made by the former administration so that Seychelles could become an influence and finacial-services hub for Russia at a time when the European Union and other finanical centres are being tightening their controls.

    It is no accident that Erik Prinz and the manager of Russians sovereign wealth fund met in Seychelles in January 2017 to discuss the removal of US sanctions against Russia.

    And unbelievable as it may sound, they were unknowingly and unwittingly assisted by the UK High Commission. How? Some time before the elections, the Russians overtly staged a burglary in the home of the UK High Commissioner and in a fit of piqueand indignation with the then government, the Commissioner naively moved her home into a suite in the Russian-owned Seychelles Savoy Hotel, a suite especially prepared for her by her Russian “friends”; assisting the Russians to monitor the UK Commission and their communications with the US Embassy in Mauritius. Influence operations helped an already prejudiced UK High who in turn prejudiced the nearest US Ambassador in Mauritius in favour of LDS.

    This is just the beginning of the story …..

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