In the aftermath of the Kenya media raids, there have been conflicting reports of the involvement of "Russian mercenaries" in one aspect or another of the situation. Now we are getting a few more specifics, and boy are they strange. First of all, there's this story from the Nation: NARC Politician is Linked to Armenians
The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) yesterday linked a Narc politician to a press conference by two former Soviet bloc foreigners Langata MP Raila Odinga describes as mercenaries.
And the movement accused the Government of providing state security to Mr Artur Sargsyan and Mr Artur Margaryan, who they claimed were "international criminals." . . .
In a move that added more mystery to the saga behind the two Armenians, the former Roads minister claimed Mr Sargsyan, who had been said to have flown into the country a few minutes before the Press conference, was in fact in the country. . . .
The two said they had been introduced to both Mr Odinga and Mr Kalonzo Musyoka by another businessman, and had been asked by Mr Odinga and Mr Musyoka to fund the ODM's no-vote campaign in the last year's November 21 referendum on the proposed Constitution.
They said they refused to do this, saying they never helped to fund political work, but said that instead they agreed to a request by Mr Odinga to lend him $1.5 million (about Sh108 million).
Mr Odinga and Mr Musyoka have denied the claims and accused the Government of being behind the allegations "to tarnish the integrity of ODM leaders". . . .
"It is clear to us that the presence in Kenya of the two persons of questionable character and integrity is with the express knowledge of the Government at a very high level," he said at Parliament Buildings in Nairobi.
The leaders also queried the source of huge sums of money for the Armenians' investment and the bank through which the transactions were carried out.
And then there's this one, also from Kenya, which identifies the company involved as Brotherlink International: Confusion As Police Confront Armenian
The eight had gone to House 977 on Glory Road, off Runda Grove, as an advance team to provide security for detectives investigating the activities of Mr Margaryan and his brother, Mr Artur Sargsyan.
Mr Margaryan was to have been interviewed by Nairobi deputy provincial CID chief Isaiah Osugo, who was appointed last week by police commissioner Mohamed Hussein Ali to investigate claims by Lang'ata MP Raila Odinga that the brothers were mercenaries. . . .
Mr Margaryan repeated his claims that he had in the past met Mr Odinga. He said it was between December 13 and 15, last year in Dubai, when he allegedly gave him the equivalent of Sh100,000 in UAE currency (dirham), to spend as he wished.
He said his brother would be returning to Kenya next week.
He went on: "I will go to court as well as demand protection from the Government because it was my right to ask for protection."
Mr Margaryan acknowledged that his company Brotherlink International Ltd had entered into a contract in January this year to rent the house. His company was involved in various businesses including car imports, electronics and real estate. . . .
Asked to explain why his brother's particulars were missing from the passenger manifest on the flight he claimed he had taken from Dubai to Kenya, he said all passengers from Arab countries used their mothers' names and not their own or their fathers'. . . .
After his brief chat with the journalists, Mr Margaryan returned to his compound and later drove off in a dark blue Subaru whose number plates were hidden behind strips of cardboard. He was accompanied by a woman who on Monday he claimed was his bodyguard.
This sure is getting interesting. I wonder where it will go.
MEANWHILE IN UGANDA, Peter Wadron (see my previous post) is facing charges. The Arms Dealer of the Lord turns out to also be a Bounty Hunter of the Lord as well: Jailed American Wanted to Grab Kony
Dr Peter Waldron, an American facing charges of illegal possession of arms, planned to use a Congolese rebel militia to capture Joseph Kony, the elusive leader of the Lord's Resistance Army.
A highly placed source said Waldron planned to claim the $1.7 million bounty on Kony's head. Ugandan and US officials, however, remained tightlipped about the case, which is set to raise more eyebrows about Waldron and his involvement in Uganda.
The Inspector General of Police, Gen. Kale Kayihura, told Daily Monitor that a charge of terrorism could be added after initial police investigations linked Waldron to anti-government propaganda. Among Waldron's various businesses and professional interests is a publication Africa Dispatch which has been critical of the arrest of Dr Kizza Besigye and the deployment of armed men at the High Court in Kampala during his trial in January.
"Obviously the Criminal Investigations Department have established a link between Waldron and several Congolese that were arrested in connection with illegally possessing guns," Kayihura said yesterday.
Until now the arrest of Waldron, an IT consultant with the Ministry of Health, who doubled as a born-again businessman with a variety of interests, has perplexed most observers.
Daily Monitor can now reveal that Dido Manyiroha, Waldron's co-accused, is one of the topmost leaders of Movement Révoluntionaire du Congo (MRC), a rebel outfit operating in Eastern Congo.
"He [Waldron] made a deal with MRC to do an operation in Garamba Park where Kony and his group are said to be hiding." a security source who declined to be named said.
"He promised to claim the reward on Kony's capture and share it with the group afterwards. He also advanced them $20,000 to organise the operation."
The International Criminal Court in The Hague has issued an arrest warrant for Kony, his field commander Vincent Otti and others, and has promised a reward of $1.7 million (over Shs3 billion) for his capture.
"MRC promised Waldron they have the men and the capacity to grab Kony because they are Congolese and they know the forests," the source added.
Praise the Lord, pass the amunition. Or something. (Thanks GW!) WALDRON UPDATE, 3/28/06: Waldron has been released and deported from Uganda. See Soj.
KENYA UPDATE: The Nation (whose registration process I finally managed to get to work) has some more lovely details on the Amrenian brothers:
Mr Musyoka emerged from a one-and-a-half hour session with the CID officer tasked to investigate the mercenaries allegations, Mr Isaiah Osugo, to state that he has never requested for funding from the two Armenians.
He said Mr Sanghani introduced the two foreigners, whom he described as "flamboyantly endowed in gold chains, rings, bracelets and watches" at the Grand Regency's Summit Club in late November last year.
"Whilst at the club, businessman Raju Sanghani walked over to where I was seated accompanied by two persons who were casually dressed and introduced them as businessmen from Dubai," Mr Musyoka said.
Mr Sanghani is the former owner of Guilders International Bank, chairman of Real Motors Group and an estate management firm.
During the 10-minute encounter, Mr Musyoka said one of the two foreigners introduced himself as a relative of the Armenian President and that he had set his eyes on a top political seat in his country.
In apparent reference to Mr Sargsyan, he said the Armenian told him of his business interests in DR Congo and inquired if Mr Musyoka could use his influence as a former Foreign minister to introduce him to President Kabila.
"I informed them that I knew President Kabila but was not well-acquainted with him. That was the end of our discussion," narrated the Mwingi North MP.
Contacted last evening, Mr Sanghani confirmed he had introduced Mr Musyoka to the two men in an "accidental" meeting.
He said the two were associates of a Dubai businessman, Mr Zakher Omar, a friend he had met in Mumbai, India, last year. Mr Omar deals in general commodities, steel rolling and real estate development in Dubai and India.
"He and l met accidentally at the hotel l was staying in and we got talking. I tried to interest him in investing in Kenya especially in real estate..."
"Sometime in November he came with two people he introduced as Arthur and James. He claimed they were members of the "royal" family in Armenia," Mr Sanghani said in a telephone interview.
He said that one evening during the three or four days which Mr Omar and his associates spent in the country, he took them to the Summit Club in the Grand Regency where they met Mr Musyoka.
"It was a casual, accidental meeting. I introduced them and told Mr Musyoka that they were members of the Armenian "royal" family. Indeed, l told him that one of the men was a presidential aspirant. I also told him that the men were interested in investing in gold and diamonds in the Democratic Republic of Congo," Mr Sanghani said.
On the face of it, these guys sound to me more like criminals and con-artits than mercenaries as such.
(See also The Yorkshire Ranter.)