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Bloomberg lied about Russia forcing African students to fight against Ukraine – Nigeria

News agency is reporting the Kremlin has been threatening foreign students with deportation unless they agree to join the military

Reports that Moscow is forcing thousands of foreign students, including some from Nigeria, to fight alongside Russian troops against Ukraine in exchange for visa extensions, are false, the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday.

Bloomberg published an article on Sunday claiming that the Kremlin has adopted the “tactics first deployed by the Wagner mercenary group,” with Russian officials increasingly “threatening” to deny visas to African students and young workers who refuse to join the military.

The outlet cited anonymous “European officials familiar with the matter” who claimed that some Africans in Russia on work visas have also been detained and forced to choose between deportation and fighting. “Some of those people had been able to bribe officials to stay in the country and still avoid military service,” according to one of the officials Bloomberg is claiming to have spoken with. The report, which has been reprinted by several outlets, has since been trending, particularly in Nigeria.

In its statement, the West African nation’s foreign ministry said “there has not been any reported case of conscription of Nigerian students nor indeed of other African students to fight” for Russia in the Ukraine conflict. “The newspaper reports are therefore false and misleading and should therefore be disregarded,” the ministry declared.

On Wednesday, Russia’s embassy in Abuja thanked the African nation’s authorities for dismissing the publication, saying it was “bewildered” to see the article in several Nigerian media outlets citing the “dubious American news agency Bloomberg.”

Bloomberg has a “history of spreading anti-Russian fake news,” according to the diplomatic mission. “Such news is not only false but also damages Russia-Nigeria educational cooperation by misleading numerous scholarship and grant applicants as well as their partners, who could be extremely concerned by such fakes,” it stated.

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According to the embassy, Nigerian students face “no difficulties” in extending their visas while studying in Russia. More than 30,000 African students come to study in Russia every year, according to recent figures reported by Rossotrudnichestvo, the cultural support and humanitarian cooperation agency.

As of December 2022, 500 Nigerian students were enrolled in Russian universities as part of a bilateral education scholarship agreement between the two governments, while over 1,500 more were private students, Abuja’s embassy in Moscow has stated.

June 13, 2024 at 06:50PM

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