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Russia's Federal Investigative Committee disputes report blaming ‘Putin's chef’ for murder of three journalists in Africa

On January 11, Russia’s Federal Investigative Committee published a press release summarizing its own leading theory about the July 2018 murders of Orkhan Dzhemal, Alexander Rastorguyev, and Kirill Radchenko, arguing that Dossier Center’s report, shared with journalists a day earlier, is merely an attempt to avoid responsibility for sending three journalists into harm’s way. Federal investigators say they believe the reporters’ deaths were the result of a robbery gone bad, and could have been avoided if the film crew and the Investigations Management Center took the proper safety precautions.

Specifically, the Investigative Committee claims that the journalists’ driver, Bienvenu Duvokamoy, has no ties whatsoever to any local gendarmes. This directly contradicts claims by the Dossier Center, which says it has phone records showing that gendarme Emmanuel Touaguende Kotofio called Duvokamoy at least 47 times in the three days the journalists were alive in CAR. Kotofio reportedly tailed the Russian journalists throughout their stay in the country.

“It should be noted that the Internet project Investigations Management Center, by initiating publications on this issue in the news media, clearly aims to justify its own miscalculations in preparing for a dangerous trip, preferring to advance its own theories and blame others who were not involved,” said the statement from Investigative Committee spokesperson Svetlana Petrenko.

According to Dossier Center's report, shared with journalists on January 10, call records and other documents link the July 2018 murders of Orkhan Dzhemal, Alexander Rastorguyev, and Kirill Radchenko to figures with ties to Evgeny Prigozhin, a catering mogul with close connections to Vladimir Putin.

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