Kenya was treated to a rare visit mid this month, by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a restaurateur from Russia’s President Vladimir Putin’s native St Petersburg.
Proggozhin is one of the most trusted Putin’s aides and is popularly referred to as ‘Putin’s Chef’ since one of his catering companies provides catering services to Putin.
A far from it, he is described as Putin’s ‘errand boy’, whose company, the Wagner Group was linked to the killing of three Russian journalists. He has also been indicted by the US Justice Department for trying to sway the 2016 election.
However, what raises eyebrows is that the plane, Hawker 800XP registration M-VITO, arrived at Wilson Airport on December 17 at 1956hours, 34 minutes to closure and left the airport for JKIA on December 20 at 1635hours. The twin engine would later leave JKIA at 1735hours local time headed to the capital city of Chad, Ndjamena.
The plane arrived in Kenya with five passengers on board and left with seven, who are yet to be identified except Prigozhin, who is believed to have been on Putin’s mission to Africa.
All Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) could reveal is that “the aircraft landed at 19:56 hrs (7:56pm) on December 17 and was directed to customs and immigration where they positioned and switched off the engines. Later they taxied out and parked at apron 4 until Thursday.”
However, other sources indicate that the plane landed at night after Wilson Airport closed (tower closed, no ATC, no runway lights, no customs/immigration/ground control).
The immigration department remained tight-lipped about the issue.
Prior to Kenya, the plane which had been on track by various investigative agencies, flew from Berlin, Germany to Beirut, Lebanon, then on to Cairo, Egypt. The number of passengers during that time is yet to be known. The mission of the tour is yet to be revealed, especially on African countries.
Progozhin is believed to prefer travelling at night to avoid being spoted.
In an article published by the Bloomberg titled ‘Putin’s notorious ‘chef’ is now meddling across Africa’, the publication reveals that Russia is targeting African countries with mineral and oil deposits. The country wants to use the resources to regain her superpower status, which she lost in 1991 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Countries on their target list include Kenya, Egypt, Central African Republic (CAR), Sudan, South Africa, Chad, Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Madagascar, Guinea and Libya.
Russia is targeting to build nuclear plants in these countries, with advanced progress in most of them. Kenya is reported to be cooperating and could soon be one of the ‘beneficiaries’, owing to her rich mineral and oil deposits.
The newfound relation between Kenya and Russia could scuffle its relations with US, which opened her airspace for the national carrier, Kenya Airways.
Egypt was recently awarded a US$25 billion (approximately Ksh2.5 trillion) Russian loan to build its first nuclear power plant.
In Zimbabwe, Russian companies are believed to be involved in a US$3 billion (Ksh3 trillion) platinum-mining venture.
War-torn DRC, which is rich in minerals has been receiving several weaponry supplies from Russia, but has severally denied the reports.
Madagascar is on Russia’s rudder for its vanilla (largest producer in the world), nickel, cobalt and uranium deposits.
However, with the change of guard in South Africa, things have not been smooth for Russia.
Bloomberg reports that president Cyril Ramaphosa froze his predecessor’s multibillion-dollar nuclear power project with Russia after he took office in February.
“But Putin is increasingly putting money behind the courtships, writing off some US$20 billion of debt held by African countries last year,” reports Bloomberg.
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