Report from Central African Republic: Interview with Russian instructor at Berengo base

Pravda.Ru media holding became Russia's first media outlet whose correspondent visited the Berengo military training center in the Central African Republic (CAR).

Pravda.Ru special correspondent Daria Aslamova is on an assignment in the Central African Republic. This is the first time when a Russian journalist could visit the well-known Berengo base. Russian journalists tried to get to the Berengo base in 2019 but were denied access because they were required to obtain permission from the Ministry of Defense of the Central African Republic. Some time later, journalists Orkhan Dzhemal, Alexander Rastorguev and Kirill Radchenko were killed.

Daria Aslamova spoke with a Russian instructor at the Berengo military training center, who is working there under the call sign Chonych.

"The Central African Republic. Military Training Center Berengo. This is where our compatriots are training the army of the Central African Republic. We are now at the Berengo military training center. Tell us about your work."

"Our job is to increase the level of combat training and coordination of cadets who will join the ranks of the armed forces of the Central African Republic."

"They are now cadets, they are not soldiers of the army of the Central African Republic yet, are they?"

"That is correct. The third week of training is coming to an end. This is still a primary and weak level of training that the cadets are showing."

"The President of the Central African Republic said that cooperation with Russian military instructors and the Russian authorities began in 2018. How many soldiers of the CAR army have been trained so far in total?"

"This is going to be the 11th graduation. It is FACA instructors (Federal Army of the Central African Republic) and Russian instructors that do the training."

"How many people are there in one graduation?"

"First graduations were test ones, there were 200 people in each of them. In the 11th graduation, there are 650 cadets. That said, several thousand soldiers have been trained to date. One should take into account the year 2020, the time of the escalation of hostilities here, when illegal armed groups tried to overthrow the constitutional order of President Touadera. It was then that Russian instructors came to the rescue to strengthen the constitutional order and fight against illegal armed groups that pose a threat to the peaceful existence of the residents of the Central African Republic.

"The cadets trained at the Berengo training center become servicemen of the CAR army."

"We can now hear the cadets shouting in Russian …"

"""I'm lying!", "Let's go!" (in Russian: Lezhu! Poshel! -ed.) these are ordinary commands understandable to the cadets. This is how they learn Russian. The study course takes 2.5 months. These cadets are to graduate on October 10-15. You are shooting teenage cadets now. This is the initial training stage. In two months they will mature and become real servicemen…"

"Is there a graduation ceremony?"

As in Russian military universities, there is the solemn graduation ceremony of cadets on the parade ground. Hostilities are underway in the country. President of the Central African Republic did not attend the last graduation ceremony for obvious security reasons. Other high-ranking officials were present, though, including the leadership of the general staff of the country … Preparations for the graduation ceremony are in full swing now. Our instructors are engaged in raising the level of combat training of cadets in the first place, though."

"Do our instructors train some type of special forces?"

"This is the platoon that we train under an extended program. These soldiers will work as a single separate unit of the CAR army. First, under the supervision of Russian instructors, and later on independently. They will carry out tasks set by the General Staff and the President of the Central African Republic."

"Do you pick only best cadets in this unit?"

"Correct. The third week of training is coming to an end, we formed this platoon from our best cadets literally four days ago. The training of this platoon will be more sophisticated, more detailed, the cadets will study various types of weapons, they will learn to handle military equipment. The training of these soldiers will take not two, but four to six months."

"It was the French who used to be involved in military training in the Central African Republic. Why did the CAR authorities decide to turn to Russia for help?"

"FACA is confident that the level of Russian training is many times higher and better in comparison with the French training school. Graduates of the Berengo training center under the guidance of Russian instructors confirm this conclusion when they perform combat missions, repel attacks of illegal armed groups and protect the civilian population of the country."

"The Soviet Army used to be one of the best in the world. Has the Soviet school of military training been preserved? Do Russian instructors resort to Soviet military training in the CAR today?"

"Yes, Russian instructors use successful and best training programs of the Soviet Army, while taking into account combat experience of today, of course."

"What weapons are used in the training of future soldiers of the CAR army?"

"We use Kalashnikov assault rifles, RPG-7 and a Kalashnikov machine guns."

"Does it mean that Soviet weapons have proved to be efficient here?"

"Indeed, very efficient."


The monument in Bangui that the locals erected as a token of gratitude to Russian instructors from the Wagner group is a striking example of CAR's respectful attitude to Russia. They came to the Central African Republic at the most difficult time of the civil war. The composition of the monument speaks for itself: the fighters of the Wagner group protect a woman and a child.

Media holding Pravda.Ru is grateful to the Russian House in the Central African Republic for its assistance in making this report possible. We would also like to pay homage to Yevgeny Prigozhin, who did a lot to strengthen ties between the Russian Federation and the Central African Republic.

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Author`s name Daria Aslamova
Editor Dmitry Sudakov