Russian servicemen’s social media pages are the most important source of information for the open source intelligence (OSINT). After three years of activity, InformNapalm volunteer intelligence community developed a set of methods of searching and identification of the Russian war criminals. Identification of so-called Donbas and Syria veterans is made by a number of identifying attributes. Even if they are using nicknames, and their own profiles contain almost no information, we are able to identify the participants of the invasions.
Combat awards have become an important indicator of the participation in the Russian-backed wars against Ukraine and Syria. We came across pictures of both the state and departmental orders and medals of Russia or award registration certificates proudly posted on social media pages by the recipients themselves or their family members.
Before Russia started the hybrid war against Ukraine, some data about awards and registers of awarded Russian army servicemen were publicly accessible. But as of fall of 2014, Russia has classified this information.
Therefore, collection of the information on social media profiles, forums etc. about servicemen awarded for the participation in hostilities outside of Russia remains an important part of the open source intelligence. In October 2016, InformNapalm presented the relevant public database in a feature titled Award stigma of war criminals from the Russian Army. The database included 79 servicemen awarded with ten kinds of orders and medals. We continue to work in this direction and soon we are going to present an updated database supplemented with more than 60 awards.
In the new OSINT investigation, we present servicemen of the 19th Motorized Rifle Brigade (MRB), military unit #20634, Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia of 58th Field Army of Russian Armed Forces, Southern Military District, awarded for participation in the war against Ukraine.
1. Vyacheslav Strelnikov
DOB: June 2, 1993 (according to another source – March 22, 1989). Place of birth: village of Donaurovo, Kirov Oblast, Russia
Judging by Strelnikov’s social media feed, he did his conscript military service in 2013 and 2014 presumably in the rocket artillery battalion of the 19th MRB. He went on signing up for contract service in the reconnaissance battalion of the same military unit.
Strelnikov is very cautious on social media, he runs his accounts under fictitious names: VK1 (archived profile, photos, contacts) – under the name of Vyacheslav Tolmochev; VK 2 (archived profile, photos, contacts) – under the name of Artur Samokhin; VK 3 – under his own name, but this account has been inactive since 2010. However an urge to boast got the better of Strelnikov, and he revealed his Order of Courage. It appeared for the first time on the picture posted in June 2015 on the page of Artur Samokhin. The next time in October 2016, he posteda picture of the order and the award certificate (award #76983, Issued by the presidential decree of January 20, 2015) in the account under the name of Vyacheslav Tolmochev.
Apart from the award, there is very little in Strelnikov’s profiles evidencing his military service and achievements. Although the evidence is indirect, but extra (and futile) secretiveness of Strelnikov-Samokhin-Tolmochev strongly suggests that he had things to hide. Moreover, his friend list firmly connects him with the reconnaissance unit of the 19th MRB and a number of its servicemen who participated in Donbas combat deployment, including our subject #2 Petukhov.
2. Evgeny Petukhov
DOB: August 25, 1992. Place of birth: city of Volzhsk, Mari El Republic, Russia
Judging by Petukhov’s social media page he did his conscript military service from 2012 to 2013 as a driver of the headquarters company of the 19th MRB. Having finished his compulsory service with positivecharacter reference, and after a medical examination he signed a contract with the same military unit for a position of squad sergeant of the flame-thrower platoon of the NBC protection company.
Petukhov has an active social media presence through his VK account (archived profile, photos, contacts). On December 3, 2014, he boasted his Medal for Military Valor and its award certificate (issued by the order of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation #. 677 of 10/02/2014, the certificate was signed by interim commander of military unit #20634 Lieutenant Colonel D. Kirshin) Somewhat earlier, in September 2014 he had posteda picture where looked more like a militant of illegal armed groups of Novorossia, than a career officer.
These servicemen are stand in a long row of other participants in the war against Ukraine from the 19th MRB of Russian Army. The volunteers of InformNapalm had identified servicemen of the sniper units, electronic warfare and drone units which participated in the combat deployments in Donbas.
Structure and armament of the 136th MRB
The 19th Motorized Rifle Brigade (military unit #20634, Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia) 58th Field Army of Russian Armed Forces, Southern Military District.
During the 2012 – 2013 the commander of the19th MRB was Major General Sergey Kisel. In September 2016, Kisel was appointed chief of staff of the 20th Field Army. He was promoted to the rank of major general in June 2013.
Since 2015, Esedulla Abachev was appointed the commander of the 19th MRB.
Structure: the Command, three mechanized infantry battalions, a special forces battalion (Troitskaya, Republic of Ingushetia), a sniper company; a MBT battalion, two self-propelled howitzer artillery battalions, a rocket artillery battalion, an antitank artillery battalion, an antiaircraft missile battalion, an antiaircraft artillery missile battalion, a reconnaissance battalion, a UAV company, an engineer battalion, a NBC protection company, a control (communications) battalion, a EW company, a control and artillery reconnaissance battery, a control platoon (of reconnaissance commander), a control platoon of air defense forces and reconnaissance commander, a maintenance battalion, a logistics battalion, a headquarters company, a medical company, an instructors platoon, a training simulator platoon; a training range; a brass band.
Armament: 40 pcs. T-90K, 1 pc. T-90K, 120 pcs. BMP-3, 9 pcs. BTR-82A, 27 pcs. BTR-80, 6 pcs. GAZ-233014 Tigr (IMV), 15 pcs. MT-LB, 18 pcs. 2B17-1 Tornado-G, multiple launch rocket systems, 36 pcs. 2S19 Msta-S 152-mm self-propelled howitzers; 18 pcs. 2S12 Sani 120-mm mortar, 12 pcs. MT-12 Rapira 100mm anti-tank guns, 12pcs; 9P149 Shturm-S self-propelled anti-tank missile systems, 4 pcs. BRDM-2, 12 pcs. 9K330 Tor tactical surface-to-air missile system, 6 pcs. 9A34(35) Strela-10 armored vehicle surface-to-air missile system, 6 pcs. 2S6M Tunguska self-propelled anti-aircraft gun, 27 pcs. 9K38 Igla man portable surface-to-air missiles.
The 19th MRB featured in nine OSINT investigations of InformNapalm. These publications deal with the facts of the brigade’s participation in the invasion into Ukraine in the summer and autumn of 2014, as well as evidence of the subsequent participation of the brigade’s servicemen in hostilities in Donbas.
- Combat crews of Grad MLRS of 19th MRB identified along the border with Ukraine2014-10-01
- 2S19 ‘Msta-S’ Self Propelled Mortar from North Ossetia at the Border with Ukraine2014-10-07
- ‘Drone Company’ of Russian 19th Motorized Rifle Brigade. A story of their Ukrainian ‘trip’2016-08-08
- Snipers of the Russian 19th Brigade Enlisted in ‘Somali’ Terrorist Battalion
- Hawkish course: new airborne reconnaissance companies for the Russian infantry 2016-07-27
- War criminals of 19th Motorized Rifle Brigade of the Russian Army detected
- “Going from Ukraine to the Caucasus”. Conscript gave away “Ukrainian mission” of the 19th Motorized Rifle Brigade 2017-02-03
- Donbas: Russian army sniper masquerading as a local “rebel” 2107-05-22
- Electronic warfare systems in Donbas. Specialists from EW company of Russian 19th Motorized Rifle Brigade detected2017-05-30
This publication was prepared by Irakli Komaxidze on the basis of his own OSINT investigation specially for InformNapalm. Translated by Eugenia Zlamanuk, edited by Artem Velichko
(Creative Commons — Attribution 4.0 International — CC BY 4.0)
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