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‘Be good ambassadors in foreign countries’ – Minister after Tanzanian man dies in combat in Ukraine

Tanzanian national Nemes Tarimo died during combat in Ukraine's conflict with Russia.

Tanzanian national Nemes Tarimo died during combat in Ukraine’s conflict with Russia.

PHOTO: Facebook/Nemes Tarimo

  • A Tanzanian master’s student who was jailed in Russia was killed while fighting in Ukraine.
  • Nemes Tarimo was studying towards a master’s degrree when he was jailed.
  • The Wagner Group, a private military contractor, is offering clemency to convicts in Russia if they fight in Ukraine.

Tanzania’s foreign minister has appealed to its citizens in other parts of the globe to avoid involvement in foreign wars after reports of the death of a 33-year-old student who fought alongside Russian mercenaries in Ukraine.

Nemes Tarimo was studying towards a master’s degree in Russia when he allegedly mixed with the wrong crowd and was jailed.

To secure his freedom, he fought under the Wagner Group, Russia’s soldiers of fortune. The Wagner Group is a private military contractor run by oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Tarimo’s family is unsure when his body will arrive home.

In an interview, they said they only heard from him in October last year, when he signed up for the Wagner Group’s Ukraine operation.

Tanzania’s foreign affairs minister, Stergomena Lawrence Tax, said in a statement that to avoid such situations, “Tanzanians should be good ambassadors in foreign countries by observing and following the laws, regulations and procedures of those countries to protect the good image of their country”.

READ: EDITORIAL | Pandor, Modise on the wrong side of history with Russia

According to Tax, Tarimo went to Russia in 2020 to join the Russian Technological University (MIREA) to study towards a master’s degree in Business Informatics.

While there, Tax said, “Tarimo was convicted for involvement in criminal acts and sentenced to seven years in prison”.

When Russia invaded Ukraine, the Wagner Group started recruiting prisoners with the promise of clemency after the war.

Another student, Zambian national Lemekhani Nyirenda, was enlisted in the operation.

He died during a gunfire exchange around November last year and was buried in his home country in December.

So far, two Africans have died fighting alongside Russian forces.

Most African countries chose to sit on the fence as far as condemning Russia. The latest death was announced at a time when Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, was visiting the region a month before South Africa, Russia and China were set to conduct a joint military exercise.

South Africa defended its intended operation with Russia and China because “all countries conduct military exercises with friends worldwide”, according to International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor.

Speaking at a moderated conversation at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics last week, United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US and its partners were doing the best they could to support Ukraine.

He said:

Time and again, we have seen dozens of countries come together to try to make sure that Ukraine is getting what it needs when it needs it – the humanitarian support, the economic support – to defend itself, to push back against the Russian aggression, and to take back the land that was seized.

US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen’s 10-day visit to Africa is viewed by some as the US’ attempt to drum up support against Russia in Africa.

The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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