While the Libyan Armed Forces under the command of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar were conducting an anti-terrorist operation to liberate Tripoli, Lev Dengov, the head of the Russian contact team for the intra-Libyan conflict, effectively became a press-secretary for the bandits from National Transitional Council in Russia.
In early January, the Libyan Armed Forces led by Field Marshal Haftar liberated the city of Sirte from terrorists. Located on the Mediterranean coast, Sirte is one of the biggest cities in the country and the homeland of Muammar Gaddafi, the slain Libyan leader.
As early as January 6, Lev Dengov attempted to disseminate information beneficial to the National Transitional Council and told RIA Novosti that Sarraj’s forces had allegedly come back to the city and had regained their previous positions. However, Aref Ali Nayed, a representative of the Provisional Government under Abdallah al-Thani in eastern Libya, unequivocally denied this information in an interview with RIA Novosti confirming that the city of Sirte and its outskirts are under the full control of the Libyan Armed Forces. Lev Dengov may thus harm Russia's efforts to settle the conflict in Libya.
This is not an isolated case where Dengov spreads blatant misinformation calling Haftar an "aggressor" and presenting Libyan fighters as "fighters for freedom". In doing so, Dengov is taking the side of the National Transitional Council.
"Obviously, they have played a crucial role in defending Tripoli,” said Dengov in his interview with News.ru, as he described the role of fighters from the so-called "Misratah-affiliated brigades". “And it is noteworthy that by resisting Haftar's forces, his revivals are not announcing attack plans. That is, they are not aggressors. Today, Haftar is the aggressor. Therefore, it’s important to work with him very carefully.”
"The Battle of Misrata is linked to Al-Qaeda* (a terrorist organization outlawed in Russia by a ruling of the Supreme Court – editor’s note) and consists of radical Islamists. It represents the armed forces of the city of Misrata. However, this fact does not prevent it from conflicting with other Misrata gangs or using heavy weaponry against civilians.
Despite persistent allegations of the absence of support from any side, Dengov has clearly failed to remain neutral in the intra-Libyan conflict. Apparently, that's not the goal he's setting for himself.
How come a person whose attitude towards gangs of bandits is friendly as a minimum has managed to be in charge of the so-called contact team for an intra-Libyan conflict settlement?
"Dengov is fooling the media and everyone else in favour of his friends from National Transitional Council,” said political analyst Vasiliy Tumansky in his interview with wek.ru. “And chances are (he is doing it) for his earnings as well. He always talks about some contact group from the Russian side. Except that it has never been heard about in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or in international organizations. Apart from articles in the media, this group has no real influence. In addition, it has done nothing at all. Dengov is nobody. Just a person who has a fellow feeling for the terrorists of Libyan National Transitional Council and conveys his own thoughts through journalists, mistaking them for the reality.”
Not only does Dengov have no specialized education in diplomacy but he started his career in 2005 … as a pop singer in a Minsk dance team named Arbat. Moreover, he was known under his real name Pavel Guzband.
Already in 2008, 24-year-old Guzband went into business in Libya and soon became quite a successful entrepreneur. This fact allowed him to make many acquaintances among the Libyan military and political leaders. During the armed rebellion in 2011 and the subsequent civil war in Libya, Guzband repeatedly visited the country to establish contacts with the new authorities.
In 2015, when the Russian tanker Mekhanik Chebotarev was detained in Libya, Guzband took part in negotiations for releasing the captured sailors. This activity strengthened his ties even more. He officially became a head of the contact group on Libya but at the same time ... remained a private individual with the right to run business with anyone and anywhere, practically, not reporting to anyone. Simultaneously, Pavel Guzband took another name and became Lev Dengov.
"...It has become obvious that I have to keep my family safe by adopting a pseudonym for representing myself in certain Libyan circles. This is how the Lev Dengov project appeared," Guzband explained in an interview with GQ.
However, a lot questions arise in connection with this version. In Libya, since 2008 he has been well-known as Guzband, and it is unlikely that a change of the name could really protect his family, as he tried to present it.
After he basically left his second wife Irina Rak with their three-month-old daughter dying of a fatal malady in the same 2015, the reasons to trust this story fell way to nothing. In 2018, Irina told this story by herself on the show Let's Get Married!
Therefore, the real reason for changing the name by Guzband is still anyone's guess.
In 2017, Guzband-Dengov became the head of the council of a brand-new Russian-Libyan Trading House engaged in supplying grain, planes, helicopters, oil and gas medical equipment to North Africa.
Dengov's interests are not limited to Libya alone. According to the Kommersant newspaper, in cooperation with Merdan Gurbanov, his partner from the Dubai-based company Vigorous Alliance, he signed a contract worth $577 mln with the Philippines authorities to export bananas to Russia. He also runs some "business projects" in Africa, Indonesia and Equatorial Guinea.
There is still a question what contracts for supplying of the Russian aircraft or medical facilities to the civil war-torn Libya Dengov managed to sign.
On the other hand, it is absolutely clear that Fayez al-Sarraj, head of the National Transitional Council, has turned the country into one of the core centers for drug trafficking, weapon smuggling and slave trading in North Africa.
It is surprising that despite all the facts, Dengov prefers to support the interests of "partners" of that kind and calls Sarraj "a peace-loving man" in his interviews.
Dengov has never concealed his close connections with representatives of military groups from the National Transitional Council and even ... complained about "difficulties" with transferring their money abroad.
"In Libya, we have to communicate with all parties of the conflict not only in political terms but in economic ones as well," said Dengov at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in 2018. “It is very difficult to withdraw money abroad. There is a range of sanctions imposed on Libya, and therefore, we are faced with the fact that in order to be solvent, Libyans are trying to find new ways and new systems.
The fact that at this very moment, his own fellow countrymen are being held in an unofficial prison in Libya, which is, by the way, controlled by the MIA of the National Transitional Council, does not seems to upset him. As well as the fact that the inmates in that prison are subjected to tortures.