Raising the Wagner flag on Fort Kidal

Raising the Wagner flag on Fort Kidal

Wagner’s presence in Mali became less secret. More than a week after the Malian army and Russian paramilitaries took control of Kidal, private company mercenaries have raised their standards in the city’s fortress. This symbol clearly did not satisfy the financial authorities, who incorrectly reported false information.

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The video went viral on social media on Wednesday, November 22. An unrecognizable flag raised by two men atop Kidal Castle in northern Mali. On this standard, we can see a pattern in the center of a black banner, perhaps the skull, the symbol of the Wagner group. After 40 seconds, a white man’s hand enters the frame, makes a sign, thumb and little finger extended in front of the building. A gesture inspired by surfers, but also found in Western armies, meaning “ Relax everything is fine “.

This video first appears on the Wagner Group’s Telegram channel on November 21, 2023 at 5pm (Paris time). We can read there in Russian the comment ” The Wagner PMC flag flies proudly in downtown Kidal “.

The video was posted to the Wagner Telegram account on November 21 at 5 p.m. © Screenshot/montage RFI

According to the photos, the skull and crossbones flag was raised as a sign of victory after Russian paramilitary forces and the Malian army took control of the city on November 14, 2023.

The science, which is difficult to define, seems to correspond to Wagner's science.
The science, which is difficult to define, seems to correspond to Wagner’s science. © Screenshots / RFI Montage

Very quickly, anti-Bamako social media accounts suggested that this was an attack on Mali’s sovereignty. On November 22, at 3 p.m., Derba tried to turn things around. The Malian Army Communications Service publishes on its accounts a screenshot of the video marked “fake news”

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Accounts considered close to the ruling military junta in Bamako are passing this video off as fake. Some people wrongly claim that this is not Kidal Fort, or that this video has been doctored. Netizens particularly point out the turquoise green color appearing in certain parts of the castle. In fact, the fort was repainted in the yellow and green colors of the High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUA), the Tuareg political and military movement.

The photos, seen by Radio France Internationale and published on social networks on the afternoon of Wednesday, November 22, show Fama hanging the Malian flag on the flagpole of the same building.

For some, these photos will be proof that Wagner’s flag did not rise from Kidal Castle. However, several financial sources consulted by RFI confirm that the Wagner flag was initially flown, before it was removed and replaced with the Malian national colours.

The Mali flag replaced the Wagner flag on the afternoon of Wednesday 22 November.
The Mali flag replaced the Wagner flag on the afternoon of Wednesday 22 November. © Screenshots / RFI Montage

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