Why the war in Donbas is not a civil war? Which citizens man the terrorist army of Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR)? Who supervises and controls the aggression against Ukraine? What are roles of the Federal Security Service of Russia (FSB), Russian private military companies (PMCs), the Russian Ministry of Defense and the Russian leadership in this war? The answers to these and many other questions lie in different planes. InformNapalm specializes in open source intelligence, but some of the inside data retrieved from time to time by Ukrainian hacktivists, complements the overall picture and shows how multi-layered Russian Federation’s terrorism is.
Tens of thousands of Russians passed through the Donbas war in three years. Some of them volunteered responding to Orwellian propaganda in the media, painting the “atrocities of Ukrainian fascists” in Donbas, others were sent to another war by the Russian army. And some went because war is their daily bread. Among the thousands of social media profiles of DPR/LPR militants, it is difficult to distinguish the active Russian military personnel from volunteers or rather mercenaries from somewhere in the Russian outback.
However, the data from the hacked mailboxes and messengers, exclusively handed over to InformNapalm by hackctivists of the Ukrainian Cyber Alliance (UCA) and CyberHunta made it possible to look behind the scenes of the Russian aggression in Ukraine. An analysis of emails and chats of Russian military men shows clear patterns as to who and how gets to Donbas. Today we will have a look into the correspondence of Andrei Stepanovich Vladyshev (email@example.com), born 1975, a resident of Krasnoyarsk, a Russian career military man with a very tell-tale life path.
Vladyshev entered military service in 1993, served in Chechnya and Tajikistan in the marines and special forces units. In 2006 he transferred to the reserve in the rank of major, served in the French Foreign Legion for a year, then returned to civilian life.
“My name is Andrei! I am 40 years old, military rank: Lieutenant colonel in reserve! I entered military service in spring 1993. I got into one of the marines units, after conscript service I signed a contract. From June 1995 to September 1996 I served in Chechnya, from October 1996 to November 1999 in Tajikistan (reconnaissance units), then continued to serve in Russian special forces units till 2006. I left military service because of a wound. From 2007 to 2008 I served in the French Foreign Legion. Then I had some rest, did some civilian work. From 05.2014 fought in Luhansk, Donbas. In June 2015 I came home to family and children!) Now I need a paid job!))) I have large combat experience! In Donbas, I was the recon-raid group commander. We worked professionally, there was no single KIA in my group. Now the whole group is ready for deployment!) We have everyone needed: a sapper, a sniper pair, a doctor, a machine gunner, a signalman, an EW man, mechanics and even a gunsmith engineer!!!))) In general, that is all about us!)”
However, in Krasnoyarsk, Vladyshev was on the rocks. In 2013 he lent 250 thousand rubles, but did not get his money back. Vladyshev sued, but got no result. And then the war began in Donbas.
Since May 2014, Vladyshev had been fighting in Donbas as a separate reconnaissance group commander. His went under callsign Cap, his recon group consisted of 12 people. The group included:
- The group commander (Cap, Andrei Vladyshev, Krasnoyarsk).
2. Deputy commander (Little, Sergey Mediuk, Republic of Khakassia).
3. Sniper (Critic).
4. Sniper (Monk, Alexander Yachmenev, Bryansk Oblast).
5. Driver/grenade-launcher operator (Carat).
6. Rifleman/grenade-launcher operator (Hindu, Victor Plotnikov, Yekaterinburg).
7. Rifleman (Chipsa).
8. Scout/rifleman (Irbis).
9. Scout/rifleman (Serafim).
10. Scout/rifleman (Sava).
11. Engineer gunsmith (Barmaley, Vladimir Kuzmenko, Russia).
12. Engineer/sapper (Mole).
Reading the group’s operations record book, we found that Vladyshev claimed credit for a lot of the Ukrainian Army casualties. This data can be significantly overstated.
On November 5, 2014 Vladyshev gets injured near Vuhlehirsk, and is forced to return to his hometown Krasnoyarsk in Russia, but already in the rank of lieutenant colonel in reserve (i.e. he receives a promotion for the Donabs deployment). He does not lose ties with Donetsk and plans to return. Through FSB and Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) connections, Vladyshev is promised the position of the head of Donetsk Alpha Force.
In general, the legal status of our investigation subject in 2015-2016 is quite interesting. He holds a military rank, but is employed by PMCs to perform combat missions. His mailbox data is not very informative, but in his chat on VK social network Vladyshev is much more open.
In particular, in Donbas he has such a schedule : “A separate group, 45 through 30, from 100! I’m the commander! I’ll take you fishing! You will go nuts!!!))) “
Also from his chat, it became known that a training camp for PMCs was opened in Novosibirsk, and Vladyshev recruited people for it: “New training camp was opened in Novosibirsk! For private operators!) I will get more details and send it to you! It’s from one crafty organization as always!”
Criteria for commander positions in PMCs: “Minimum two combat deployments to various areas, at least technical college grade, apart from basic education! Well, and for commanders – a degree, at least captain rank + 5 years on assignments!) All of ours passed all requirements!)”
Vladyshev had a very good 2015. He was even assembling a group to liquidate unwanted warlords:
“I thought so! OK, I’ll stir up a hornet’s nest soon! The approval came from the department, for forming of a new group, similar to the one that was in the autumn! Hold on, boys, another week and we will roll in the stuff!)”
“Thank you bro! I will take you into the group! We go to the same region, but with other tasks! There is a lot of rottenness among friendlies, it’s time to cleanse!”
“Everyone understands everything and everyone has his own choice! This is not my land and I do not need anything from there! Therefore, this is just a very well paid job! And I do not want people who are under my command to risk their lives for peanuts!!! This will not happen again! I have seen Shoygu! Well, details in person!)”
In what capacity did Lieutenant-Colonel Vladyshev met Russian Minister of Defense Shoygu?
“In DPR all the scum got to senior posts and it is no good! Criminals and thieves are all in charge! It’s time to cut it!))) Okay buddy, time to sleep, it’s three in the morning!) Let’s continue tomorrow!”
It is also very interesting how Vladyshev comments on his stay in Donbas in 2014:
“Bro, there’s such a shit happening here!!!!! Money for volunteers comes, but the volunteers themselves do not receive even the smallest part !!!!!! EVERYTHING IS PILFERED BY FAGGOTS WHO HEARD WHIZ OF BULLETS IN CINEMA ONLY!!!! Normal people are cleaned up so that information about the fucking rip-off of the fighting men does not reach the world community!!!! I’M ASHAMED, THAT I AM A COLONEL OF THE RUSSIAN ARMY !!!!!!! THEY WANTED ME TO SHOOT OUR SOLDIERS, WITH WHOM I SAT IN ONE TRENCH 5 MINUTES BACK!!!! BRO, WE HAVE A FAGGOT COUNTRY!!!!!”
“I’m the commander of a recon/raid unit of the REGULAR RUSSIAN ARMY!!!!!! FUCK OUR POLITICIANS!!!!”
“Due to this political prostitution, I wrote a request for dismissal!!!! I WILL NOT SHOOT FRIENDS!!!! My officer’s integrity will not allow me to shoot friendly soldiers!!! “
It is not clear whether Vladyshev left the army. Perhaps the money and the career prospects won over the principles, because then he writes:
“Congratulate me on the colonel rank!)
They gave me the stars and I got a transfer to Vympel!
Now I’m the commander of a special group of Vympel!) Fuck yeah, who would have thought it!?)
Yes bro! Now I am a hitman! Special tasks related to the termination of terrorists anywhere in the world!”
Apparently, Vladyshev was earning good money in Donbas:
“Thanks bro! How do you feel about going to Donbas within my group at the end of April for 45 days?) 150 per month + bonus! I had to take time out with the cafe for a while!) I’m in the state service after all!)”
But already in September 2015, Vladyshev tries to get into Wagner PMC, probably attracted by 80 thousand rubles a week. However, his candidacy is rejected by the counterintelligence officers:
“Bro, things are tough, I’m waiting for the money! That PMC will not take YOU! As soon as I receive the money, I’ll call you right away! Moscow has been mindfucking me for 2 months! A week later I will meet with Kuzhugetych, he comes to Tuva! I will ask a question on the creation of a PMC in Siberia! They told me he wants to bring the issue to Volodya!” [Ed.: “Kuzhugetych” is the reference to Sergei Kuzhugetovich Shoygu, Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation, “to bring the issue to Volodya” – to convey information to Vladimir Putin]
It is rather strange, that a “retired” lieutenant colonel of the Russian army, who has been through many combat deployments, is in the constant search for money. Despite his military earnings, Vladyshev is saddled with two unpaid loans at once: from Sberbank and TinkoffBank:
As a result, TinkoffBank even sells the Colonel’s debt to the collectors, and Vladyshev in the middle of a medical treatment decides to try his luck with PMCs. First he comes into contact with Wagner, but he does not like something in Molkino, and he starts negotiations with the MAR PMC from St. Petersburg.
MAR is one of the private military companies operating in Russia. The company’s chief executive is Maruschenko Alexey Mikhailovich (firstname.lastname@example.org), with whom Vladyshev was in contact. Prior to the war in Donbas, Maruschenko owned Maruha tattoo studio, but with the outbreak of the war he switched to a new promising business – “protection of Russia’s national interests”.
Russia just opened a second front in Syria, and Vladyshev decided to move to the Middle East. Negotiations with MAR were friendly at first, Vladyshev gathered his scout team, promised his people high wages and waited for a signal from Moscow:
Many former Russian military men and even ex FSB officers were looking to get into the PMC due to Vladyshev’s connections and combat experience. Pictures of dozens of personal documents of Russian military men, who learned about the recruitment to the group, were sent to his email address.
However, the FSB was very careful about the paper work, keeping in mind the Ukrainian hacktivists and the Myrotvorets database: “About questionnaires – I repeat again: Completed questionnaires must be handed over ONLY in person! The maximum, that may be sent on the Internet – a list in the format // Name, with swords / without swords//. Do not feed Myrotvorets!)))”
Vladyshev’s group arrived in St. Petersburg and was waiting for deployment to Syria, but no order for deployment came:
“Good morning! Guys, well, it’s no good! If you say “Tomorrow during the day”, then at least stick to your own phrases! Should I dismiss the group or wait for your “Tomorrow”? New year comes, we have to work, feed our families, and from you we only get “tomorrow and the day after tomorrow”. Is there really nothing solid? Then say it: Guys, do not wait! While we are waiting, we could have all gone to other rotations! Your work organization is really BAD!!! Yours truly, Lt. Col. A.S. Vladyshev”
“I cannot tell you anything!!!” You are not only one!!! There are some things which are coordinated at the very top.
You have to be patient and not get too pushy. Otherwise, we’ll have to part our ways. If you do not like something, then you better go elsewhere. We will not explain why we act one way or another. Thank you!!!”
Sometimes PMCs cover the FSB operations. They announce recruitment of people wishing to fight for money, promise interesting deployments, good wages and promotions. Then they collect applications of those who want to go to war, and that is the end of the operation: the FSB acquires a highly relevant operational reserve roster for the case of hostilities. Perhaps, MAR performed just this function.
Finally, Vladyshev and part of his group deploy to Syria, but in the end only four people remain alive. Vladyshev asks to give the survivors the DPR medals.
In Krasnoyarsk, Vladyshev became a prominent figure in the Union of Donbas Volunteers. From time to time he helps wounded Russians returning from Ukraine and gets them out from the FSB grip. Here, for example, Vladyshev hands over to the FSB operative a weapons cache in Rostov Oblast in exchange for the release of a militant with the callsign Yakut.
“On August 20, 2016 on the highway Donetsk (in Rostov Oblat) – Rostov, road police stopped the car, in which Madvaliev Marat Tursunbaevich (callsign Yakut, DOB: June 29, 1975), Sasha and Igor (fucking humanitarian workers from Yekaterinburg) were traveling. They were asked to show their documents and submit the vehicle for inspection (WITHOUT WITNESSES TO THE SEARCH). For 40 minutes, they were looking for something, then masked policemen drove up and detained all three, although they found nothing. After that, they stopped at the nearest wood line, began to beat and run electric current through Marat, forcing him to sign some papers, then PUT WEAPONS , which [the policemen] BROUGHT ALONG in [detainees’] hands and then photographed [the detainees] with them. After that, they took [the detainees] to the police station and interrogated them, all this lawlessness was supervised by Rostov FSB officers: Viktor Filatov, Ivlev and Smirnov (first names of last two ones have not been established), then [the detainees] were taken to the reception center (!!!!!), on Semashko Street 1, this is on the Rostov city embankment. The FSB investigator (also in the mix), Grebenkin Stanislav Alekseevich, said that they are criminated according to articles 222 and 226!!! WHAT IS THE REASON FOR THIS CRIMINATION, IF THERE WERE NO WEAPONS ON THE DETAINEES!!!!!!!??????? I proposed the investigator to exchange Yakut, for a real weapons dealer and his cache, which is in the Rostov Oblast, he agreed !!!!! But he said that he supposedly could not release Yakut immediately, he had to do some “activities”!!! Misha, this is so fucked-up, anybody can be locked away like this in Russia!!!! Marat did not sign anything, and these fucking humanitarian workers (they were from the same city), gave in to the investigator (only to be released, no matter how) and now talk such bollocks!!!! But there’s still a lie detector option! On October 25, there was a preliminary hearing of the case in court! Misha, my friend Yakut needs help, VERY URGENTLY!!! I’m ready to give them a real cache, why for the sake of promotion putting in imprison an absolutely innocent man????? Well, if they need result, then they must work for it, and not do this outrage! It is necessary to get the FSB’s internal security into it. I am ready to set these crooks up nicely for the sake of a friend and justice! I told the investigator that there is a video of detention (bluffed of course), that the process of search and detention was filmed from the bushes and that the video shows that the detainees had no weapons, HE FELL FOR IT, Misha!!!))) Now we draw a conclusion !!!)))”
Let’s sum it up.
A major of the Russian army retires in 2013, lends money and does not get back. In 2014, he returns to military service to fight in Donbas, where he commands a separate scout group of Russians. In November 2014, he is forced to leave Donbas wounded, but already in the rank of lieutenant colonel.
From the correspondence we learn that Vladyshev most likely was in Donbas as a Russian contract military man. He also somehow meets with Minister of Defense Shoygu and constantly boasts to his friends about his work for the FSB.
He goes to Donbas for combat missions, assembles a combat group to eliminate unwanted warlords (such as Mozgovoi, Motorola, Givi) on the orders of the FSB and GRU.
In 2015, he still has two outstanding loans, and decides to go to Syria, but only wastes his time negotiating with MAR PMC. As a result, part of his group ends up in Syria, where it suffers losses. Lieutenant Colonel Vladyshev is trying to return to Donbas, but in the end he has to receive treatment in Russia funded by Union of Donbas Volunteers.
Why do Russians go to fight in Ukraine or Syria? They go to kill for money. But not all return.
Evidence data was exclusively provided to InformNapalm by the hacktivists of the Ukrainian Cyber Alliance for analysis and processing. InformNapalm Community bears no responsibility for the sources and origin of the data.
This publication was prepared by Lev Boyar specially for InformNapalm. Translated by Evgeniy Kalashnik, edited by Artem Velichko
An active link to the authors and our project is obligatory for any reprint or further public use of the material.
(Creative Commons — Attribution 4.0 International — CC BY 4.0)
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