This Congolese student member of Lugansk’s pro-Russian militia

“I feel at home here. Here is my home”declares the Russian Jean Claude Sangwa. An unexpected meeting took place on the streets of Lugansk, the stronghold of the Donbass separatists in Ukraine. In a video published on WarGonzo, the pro-Russian propaganda Telegram account with more than one million subscribers, a young African in military uniform becomes the hero of the day, with the headline “An African in the Lugansk militia”.

(Re)read: War in Ukraine: the plight of African students left to fight on their own

His presence, his testimony, his side with the pro-Russian forces in the war in Ukraine is not surprising. However, Jean Claude Sangwa did not come here by accident.

Screenshot of War Gonzo's post on Telegram with video of Jean Claude Sangwa

An African who defends Russia’s interests

Jean Claude Sangwa’s journey from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Donbass passed through Russia. “I am in Lugansk as a student. First I was in Rostov. [NDLR, dans le sud de la Russie et près de la frontière avec l’Ukraine] I studied Russian for a year and then I came here”. The 27-year-old Congolese student has been studying economics at Lugansk University since last year.

He is part of the group of foreign and especially African students leaving to study in Russia, except that he has come to Lugansk in the heart of one of the two pro-Russian separatist republics that has left Kiev since 2014.

Why did he join the Lugansk militia? because “The whole world is at war with Russia”. In his own words, Jean Claude isn’t the only one getting kicked. Two other fellow students from the Congo and the Central African Republic joined the local militia as well.

I heard on the Internet that our enemies took our military papers, saying that I was dead.Jean Claude Sangwa, African student joins Lugansk militia

Jean Claude Sangwa is not entirely unknown in this conflict. According to the latest news, according to the Ukrainian authorities, he died… Indeed, a few days after the start of Russian aggression and heavy bombardments in Ukraine, his photo and ID circulated in the edited account. By the Ministry of Interior, which has officially made public the documents and even the faces of the killed or captured Russian soldiers in order to inform their families who want to know.

See (again): A Senegalese volunteer commits to defend Ukraine

“I heard from the internet that our enemies took our military papers saying that I was dead”, says. The image of these newspapers was posted on social media as proof of his disappearance. Fortunately for him, it is not.

According to the British newspaper The Guardian, which tells his story, Jean Claude Sangwa fought for two months. He is now patrolling the streets of Lugansk in the ranks of the militia.

Heirs to the tradition of African scholarship students from the former USSR

Leaving Africa for studies in Russia and neighboring countries, Jean Claude Sangwa’s trajectory recalls the path followed by hundreds of thousands of African scholarship students from the Soviet Union era from the 1950s to the collapse of the USSR. Today, the influx of African students is disproportionate to this “golden age”, but this tradition persists, especially in Russia and Ukraine.

Jean Claude Sangwa’s choice to join the Lugansk paramilitary forces contrasts sharply with the choice of hundreds of African students who from the morning of February 24 found themselves trapped by Russian attacks and the occupation of Ukraine and were forced to flee to North Africa with Ukrainian civilians. European Union countries.

With 30 °C in the shade, conditions in Lugansk are currently very comfortable for AfricansExcerpt from the pro-Russian propaganda account WarGonzo

For the WarGonzo propagandist, the case of Jean Claude Samba, who says he is at home in Lugansk, is a godsend. “With 30 °C in the shade, conditions in Lugansk are currently very comfortable for Africans“, ironically begs WarGonzo. “Who should help, if not Africans, in the war against Ukrainian racists!” Ukrainian racists? An argument without any concrete foundation, but reflecting the so-called “Ukrainian Nazis” who, according to the propaganda of Kremlin master Vladimir Putin, controlled Ukraine.

Africans stranded in Ukraine

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