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Police arrest 5 Ghanaians linked to pro-Wagner propaganda campaign

Five Ghanaian individuals have been in police custody since August of this year and subsequently appeared in court, where they faced charges related to an alleged conspiracy to overthrow the government and disrupt the peace.

This arrest, which occurred on August 14, 2023, was connected to a protest organized by a pro-Russian group led by Michael Asiedu, who serves as the administrator of Mikado News, a Facebook blog boasting 1.5K followers known for disseminating pro-Russian content.

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According to a comprehensive report by GhanaFact, these arrests took place because these individuals were seen wearing shirts bearing inscriptions related to Wagner, a paramilitary group. Investigations indicated that the protest in question transpired on August 13, 2023, at Diabene Park in Takoradi, the capital of Ghana’s Western Region.

The rally witnessed the participation of numerous young people, some of whom displayed placards with various slogans, including “Biden is a warmonger” and “Long live Russia.” Flags of Ghana, Russia, Niger, Mali, and Algeria were also visible at the event.

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Subsequently, on August 18, 2023, Michael Asiedu and the four others were granted bail and scheduled to appear in court on October 3, 2023.

GhanaFact’s report delves into the activities of Asiedu and his associates, highlighting their involvement in promoting a pro-Russian agenda believed to be in the broader interests of the Russian mercenary group, Wagner.

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The report details their online campaigns and the methods they employed to raise funds for the August protest. The Telegram pages used by this network served as sources for disseminating information, with posts on these pages being replicated across other platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

Furthermore, the report uncovers podcasts and Twitter space conversations where plans for the pro-Russian/pro-Wagner protests in Ghana were discussed, along with logistical issues related to their operations in the country.

During these investigations, it was determined that Michael Asiedu played a pivotal role as the local point person for the Ghana project. He administers Mikado News, a Facebook page with 1.5K followers that regularly publishes pro-Russian content.

In preparation for the pro-Russian/pro-Wagner protest, three online events in the form of podcasts and Twitter spaces were organized on August 5, 10, and 12, 2023. These events discussed various aspects, including venue, expected turnout, funding, and political support.

Aussie Cossack, who hosted the August 5 podcast on TNT radio, mentioned that the Russian Embassy had been informed about the planned protest but chose not to be directly involved in its organization.

The August 10 discussion, hosted by DDGeopolitics on Twitter, featured Aussie Cossack stating that the rally organizers had the backing of the Russian Government, the Soviet Peace Fund, and the Wagner PMC, while also cautioning against any harassment of participants, including by the Ghana Police Service.

The investigation further revealed that Aussie Cossack’s real name is Simeon Boikov, an Australian citizen with pro-Russian leanings who is currently seeking asylum at the Russian Embassy in Sydney, Australia.

During these online discussions, concerns were raised about Ghanaian authorities potentially refusing to grant permission for the rally due to the government’s stance on the Wagner group.

In their final engagement on August 12, 2023, Aussie Cossack confirmed that he had sent crowdsourced funds and Russian flags to Michael Asiedu through Western Union and the Russian Embassy in Ghana.

Regarding protest funding in Ghana, an appeal for funds was made on August 6, 2023, urging people to support the pro-Russian/pro-Wagner protests. GhanaFact’s investigations estimated that approximately $6,000 was used in organizing the protest.

Evidence revealed that AUD 2471.5 was directly sent to the protest organizers in Ghana, with AUD 691.5 allocated for the purchase and shipment of 200 Russian flags to the Russian embassy in Ghana.

Additionally, there were reports of an earlier shipment of 100 flags to Ghana by Aussie Cossack on August 5, as detailed in publications by two Russian online newspapers, RiaNovosty and EADaily.

Lastly, GhanaFact uncovered a receipt dated August 7, 2023, in the name of the Wagner PMC, indicating the purchase of 1000 T-shirts for the protestors at a cost of GHS 50,000 or $4,300.

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