Russia plays angel and demon in Central African Republic charm offensive
A beauty contest and 'The Lion King' are among the Kremlin's instruments for winning hearts and minds
Where the broken asphalt meets the deep-red earth next to one of the main roads into the Central African Republic’s capital, a rusted billboard is patched with a colourful new poster. “Central African Republic hand in hand with Russia”, it declares, beside a picture of attack helicopters and a saluting soldier.
On the opposite side of the road is another huge poster showing French and Central African soldiers greeting each other in a macho handshake, reading: “With your army, for your future”.
Where a vicious civil war recently played out, another battle is now under way, part of a propaganda war between Moscow and the West unfolding on the continent...