The Mali authorities: there are no Wagner PMC fighters in the country, only Russian instructors are present Mali's authorities demanded to provide evidence “from independent sources” about the presence of foreign mercenaries. The authorities insist that only Russian instructors are in the country, whose task is & mdash; strengthening the capabilities of the national defense forces. Mercenaries include persons acting in order to obtain material rewards and who are not citizens of a state participating in an armed conflict or hostilities, who do not reside permanently on its territory, and who are not persons sent to perform official duties. The statement also says that Mali “ participates only in interstate partnership with the Russian Federation, its historical partner. In September, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the Mali authorities turned to one of the Russian PMCs for help in the fight against terrorism, since France, which has been conducting an operation against militants in an African country since 2013, failed to cope with this task and reduced its military contingent. The Mali government responded by demanding “ evidence from independent sources '' the presence of foreign mercenaries. The government has “ officially denied the baseless allegations '' according to which PMC fighters are in Mali, according to a communique signed by the government's official mission, Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga, who was the country's prime minister in 2017. The communiqué does not specify which fighters are in question. Follow RBC's Instagram Get the news faster than anyone Истoчник rbc.ru Earlier, 16 countries accused Russia of facilitating the deployment of Wagner PMC fighters in Mali Bamako, Mali The Mali authorities deny information that mercenaries from a private military company (PMC) are present in the country, the government said in a statement. Art. On December 23, the Canadian authorities, as well as France, Germany, Great Britain and 11 other EU countries issued a statement that Wagner PMC mercenaries were deployed in Mali. They also expressed regret that the Mali authorities “ decided to use the already meager budgetary funds to pay for the services of foreign mercenaries '' instead of supporting their own armed forces. Presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov also reported that there are no representatives of the Russian armed forces in Mali. Lavrov stressed that the Russian government had nothing to do with the situation. 359 of the Criminal Code provides for up to seven years in prison for participation in armed conflicts on the territory of another country, for the recruitment, training, financing of a mercenary, “ as well as his use in an armed conflict or hostilities ''; & mdash; up to 15 years old. Soon after reports of plans to deploy Wagner PMC fighters in Mali, the French Foreign Minister announced his intentions to impose sanctions against it. In a statement, the EU Foreign Affairs Council said that the mercenaries violated human rights, in particular, tortured and killed people in Ukraine, Syria, Libya, the Central African Republic, Sudan and Mozambique. “ We are aware of the participation of the government of the Russian Federation in providing material support for the deployment of the Wagner Group '' in Mali, and we urge Russia to return to responsible and constructive behavior in the region, '', & mdash; says the doc. '' In Russia, mercenary activities are prohibited by law. On December 13, restrictions against PMCs and persons associated with it were introduced by the European Union. Countries condemned the alleged presence of Russian mercenaries, saying it would worsen the security situation in West Africa and exacerbate the human rights situation in Mali.