MOSCOW, August 1. /TASS/. Three men killed in the Central African Republic have been confirmed as Russian journalists and their bodies will be sent back home in the coming days, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Rossiya 24 TV on Wednesday.
"Yesterday evening the identification procedure of the victims’ bodies was completed, they are three Russian citizens. The names mentioned by media were confirmed (Kirill Radchenko, Alexander Rastorguyev and Okhran Dzhemal)," the diplomat said. "Right now, our Embassy is in close contact with the CAR’s law enforcement bodies, which launched a criminal investigation."
On Wednesday, a group of law enforcement agents will visit the crime scene again. "Special attention is being paid to this case, and now it is a priority for us," Zakharova said.
The identification procedure was complicated because the victims did not carry their passports. The journalists had neither informed the Foreign Ministry nor the Embassy in the Central African Republic about the purposes of their trip and their visit to the country.
The Embassy and the Foreign Ministry had made an inquiry with the CAR Embassy in Moscow about the Russians’ entry documents. "Now we know that they had entered the CAR as tourists," the diplomat stressed. "They had not filed any applications about their journalistic activity."
The press cards featuring the journalists’ names had expired, she said.
The bodies will be sent to Russia in the coming days. "The relatives will be informed about the exact date," Zakharova said.
The Russian Embassy in the Central African Republic reported on Tuesday that three men had been found dead near the city of Sibut (300 kilometers north of the CAR’s capital city Bangui) on July 30. The Russian Foreign Ministry said later that the men had press cards featuring the names Kirill Radchenko, Alexander Rastorguyev and Okhran Dzhemal.
The Russian Investigative Committee has launched a criminal investigation into the murder. The United Nations is ready to provide assistance to the CAR authorities in investigating the Russian journalists’ death.
Editor-in-chief of the Ekho Moskvy radio station Alexei Venediktov earlier told TASS that journalist Okhran Dzhemal, cameraman Kirill Radchenko and director Alexander Rastorguyev had been working on a documentary in the CAR.