Russia’s showing us it has the capability to multitask. New reports show how Russia’s Wagner mercenary group is committing violence and extortion against Africans who are part of the diamond-extraction industry.

The Wagner Group is a Russian private military company (PMC) with ties to President Vladimir Putin. It has been accused of involvement in several controversial operations, including the siege of an airport in Donetsk, Ukraine, and the deployment of mercenaries to Syria. In recent years, Wagner Group fighters have been active in Africa, where they have been accused of committing human rights abuses against local civilians.

Wagner has reportedly established a shell company in the Central African Republic (CAR) to acquire and sell diamonds. After facing multiple international sanctions, Wagner’s desperate acts may have been pushed by Moscow’s urgent need for cash. In an investigative report conducted by the European Investigative Collaborations and All Eyes On Wagner project and the Dossier Centre, it was discovered that Wagner Group is forcing the country’s poorest to mine and collect diamonds while getting the worst treatment and little to no pay.

The Wagner Group are forcing African miners and collectors to turn over their gems or sell them exclusively to a shell company called Diamville. Diamville trades in diamonds that violate the rules of the Kimberley Process, and it is possible that this company is being used by the Wagner Group to launder illicit diamonds.

Wagner’s shell company, Diamville, is in violation of the rules of the Kimberley Process. The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) was established in 2003 to prevent “conflict diamonds” from entering the mainstream diamond market. The scheme seeks to ensure that all rough diamonds are tracked from the mine to the retail jewelry store, and it does this through a system of certifications and controls. To be certified as “conflict-free,” diamonds must come from sources not involved in armed conflict and meet specific other requirements, such as being exported from participating countries through authorized channels.

The Kimberley Process is administered by the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in cooperation with the World Diamond Council (WDC), which represents the global diamond industry. The scheme has been criticized for its shortcomings, including failing to address the diamond industry’s human rights abuses. Nevertheless, it remains the only mechanism to prevent diamonds from funding armed conflict.

Since its inception, the Kimberley Process has helped to reduce the flow of conflict diamonds into global markets. In 2013, De Beers reported that conflict diamonds accounted for less than 1% of all diamonds traded. However, there are some concerns that the Wagner Group may use the Kimberley Process to legitimize its trade in illicit diamonds.