Falcons from Deripaska
Igor Sergienko's call sign is Shershen. He came to fight in Ukraine as a Wagnerian back in 2014: “We were then called “they are not there,” he recalls in a conversation with Important Stories. Then he went to Syria - "participated in the capture of Palmyra", and in 2022 he returned to Ukraine, first as part of the Redut PMC, and now as a platoon commander in the Sokol battalion.
Sokol is a volunteer battalion, but, like most PMCs, it is part of the Russian armed forces (part of the 108th air assault regiment). Therefore, Sergienko's salary comes from two sources: 200,000 rubles a month under the contract is paid by the Ministry of Defense, and another 100,000 are paid by the sponsor ("the military-industrial complex company," as the advertisement says).
“First, we employ [in our company] the day before the conclusion of the contract [with the Ministry of Defense], and then we suspend the employment contract, and we have a basis for paying bonuses to our employee who went to the SVO. Such a scheme, ”said the recruiter, who introduced himself as Viktor Fedorovich (the journalist from Important Stories introduced himself as a recruit). What kind of sponsor is this, from which, as Shershen put it, "additional capital investments" are coming, he does not remember, and Viktor Fedorovich does not say.
But the phone numbers that Sokol indicates in his telegram for those who want to sign up for the war belong to Rusal Management. This is a 100% subsidiary of Rusal, one of the largest companies in Russia and one of the largest aluminum producers in the world, its main owner is Oleg Deripaska. Rusal Management, whose phones receive calls from volunteers, manages Rusal (one might say, is its general director). The number that Viktor Fedorovich gave to the recruit of "Important Stories" was recorded on it to resolve issues of further employment.
In fact, it’s not even a secret for our own people that mercenaries are registered in Deripaska’s company. They discuss it in chats: for example, a Sokol volunteer with the call sign Kyiv wrote that “Deripaska arranges the personnel of the Sokol in his private security companies” (private security companies).
"Important stories" found confirmation of this scheme.
So, Igor Sergienko (Shershen) since October 2022 - namely, then, according to him, he joined the Sokol - has been working in the private security company Ruslan. Ruslan’s bank statement, which Important Stories has read, explicitly states that the company maintains mercenaries: “Free payment of funds to a military service under a contract” - this purpose of payment is opposite a number of names, including Sergienko.
Private security company "Ruslan" is firmly connected with Deripaska - last year, two companies affiliated with the businessman were his only clients, from which he received about 90 million rubles.
Scrolling through the chats of Sokol, Important Stories found at least two more mercenaries who were employed by Deripaska. One is Aleksey Kupriyev, callsign Kapa, in the telegram he introduces himself as the commander of the Sokol-2 battalion. Capa has also been fighting since 2014, here is a video where he talks about it. The other is Vladislav Olenich.
Kupriyev and Olenich are employed by Aeroterminal, a Krasnodar-based company that builds and repairs airports in Krasnodar, Anapa, and Krasnoyarsk. 70% of the company belongs to Aerodinamika, founded by Deripaska (before the imposition of sanctions against the businessman, it was called Basel Aero). Aerodinamika operates airports in Sochi, Krasnodar and Anapa. Kupriyev and Olenich refused to talk to Important Stories.
Deripaska himself, as already mentioned, is under sanctions. But Rusal, whose managers are now recruiting mercenaries for the war with Ukraine, was exempted from sanctions after Deripaska reduced his stake in the company below the control. In July, the European Aluminum Industry Association European Aluminum noted in its memorandum that sanctions against Rusal should be avoided, as it is highly integrated into the global economy.
Rusal told Important Stories that the company has nothing to do with the activities of volunteer structures and knows nothing about the use of its telephone numbers by third parties.
Guards from Michelson and Timchenko
The relatives of Igor Kozhushko, a native of Yamal, did not know that he was going to Ukraine - he called them already from the training center in Murmansk. It was September 28 last year; already on November 4, a stranger wrote to his sister that Kozhushko had died in the war.
The family managed to find out that Kozhushko was leaving to fight along with Novatek employees. He ended up in the 7th Company of the infamous 200th Motorized Rifle Brigade, which, according to The Washington Post, has lost 500 men in just three months since the start of the war. Having lost so many soldiers, the brigade was in a deplorable state - it needed new recruits. Some of them were volunteers from Novatek.
This company is the second natural gas producer in Russia after Gazprom. Its main owners are billionaires Leonid Mikhelson and a friend of Vladimir Putin, Gennady Timchenko, both under sanctions. Novatek was only partially affected by the sanctions - the US authorities imposed a ban on attracting any financing for the company for a period of more than 14 days (due to which there were difficulties with financing the Yamal LNG project). However, in 2022, Novatek only increased the supply of liquefied gas to Europe and, according to Reuters calculations, may soon overtake Gazprom in this indicator.
In Novatek, mercenaries are arranged like in Rusal. One of the volunteers shared the phone number of his Novatek recruiter with Important Stories. The number belongs to Andrei Vasilyev, the general director of the private security company Saturn-1. This PSC was founded by Novatek. Although now it does not formally belong to him, his business is completely dependent on the structures of Leonid Mikhelson: in 2022 - early 2023, the private security company received from them, including from the fashionable Moscow cultural center GES-2, almost all of its revenue - almost a billion rubles.
When the correspondent of "Important stories", introducing himself as a volunteer, asked Vasilyev whether "it is possible to get a job through Novatek", he answered in the affirmative. And he clarified that the payments go through the Courage fund: 200 thousand rubles a month in addition to payments from the Ministry of Defense.
There is only one charitable foundation with this name in Russia, it was registered in September 2022. Almost all the donations that the fund received in the first three months of its existence came from Novatek - more than 200 million rubles.
"Important stories" got acquainted with the financial documents, from which it follows that the deceased Igor Kozhushko worked (actually worked, not just listed) in the Bastion private security company owned by Saturn, which guards Novatek's fields. And he received payments for military service from the Courage Foundation - as charitable assistance.
Kozhushko's colleague from Bastion, who also went to war, praises the Courage Fund - they pay well there: 300,000 a month in addition to the 200,000 salary from the Ministry of Defense. According to him, his fellow security guards were recruited right at the workplace - on the watch, and representatives of Novatek and Bastion were directly involved in this. He himself was on vacation at that time - he, along with other vacationers, was invited to come to Moscow “for a conversation”: “No one knew what about. But they said turnout must be 100%. At the "conversation" the guards were offered to go to fight.
Novatek did not answer the questions of "Important stories", as well as the general director of "Saturn" Andrey Vasiliev.
Builders from Gordeev and Gutseriev
“The largest federal company invites volunteers to support military service under a contract,” such an announcement on Avito was given by a company with an unpronounceable, but purely peaceful name, Inzhteploprogress. The conditions are about the same everywhere: 400 thousand rubles for lifting, then - 100 thousand rubles a month from the company and 200 thousand rubles from the Ministry of Defense.
Inzhteploprogress itself does not in any way pull on the “largest federal company”, but its co-owner, the largest developer in Russia, PIK, which belongs to billionaire Sergey Gordeev, fully corresponds to this definition. Another company of the PIK group, General Contractor - MFS, also published such announcements. In addition, she was looking for an "agent for the recruitment of volunteers for the contract" ("the vacancy consists in finding and accompanying to the point of selection of a volunteer for the contract"). Salary - 15 thousand rubles "for one candidate." "Important Stories" called to apply for this vacancy, but it was too late: the employee had already been found.
PIK did not answer questions from Important Stories.
PIK is not the only developer who needs soldiers of fortune. “Contracted serviceman to the NVO zone” - Mospromstroy is looking for such an employee, businessman Mikhail Gutseriev. Mospromstroy is smaller than PIK, but older and more prestigious: it built the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, reconstructed famous Moscow museums and theaters; The company's motto is "We create the silhouette of Moscow." Mospromstroy's pay for mercenaries is less - only 200 thousand, but the salary is larger - 150 thousand (naturally, in addition to payments from the Ministry of Defense). The company did not respond to questions from Important Stories.
Homeland is more expensive
Mercenaries are willing to pay more and more. For example, in Yakutia they already offer a lift of 800 thousand rubles: 300 thousand from the sponsoring company, 300 thousand from the region and 200 thousand from the Ministry of Defense.
There is nothing fundamentally new in this scheme. "Important stories" told how the Moscow authorities force companies to look for soldiers of fortune, fictitiously employ them and send them to the front. "Mosgaz", "Moscow Metro", "Gormost", "Mosvodokanal" could not refuse their native mayor's office. The same thing happened at the federal level. Evgeny Prigozhin in an interview mentioned PMCs associated with Gazprom. The Uranus battalion reported that it was supported by Roskosmos. The Nestka publication has discovered a company that recruits volunteers for Russian Railways. All these were state-owned companies. As it turned out, private ones are no different.