Personnel documentation of the informal military unit "Wagner Group" was at the disposal of the editorial staff of the "Fontanka". Our history is about who and what perishes in the Syrian Republic, not getting into the official statistics of the Ministry of Defense, and about why the words of generals are wickedness. And also about how the private war changed after Syria signed a document with the Russian LLC "Euro Polis".
The Wagner PMC is an informal military organization that took part in hostilities in the Donbass (on the side of Novorossia) and in Syria (on the side of the Assad government). About activity of this PMC "Fontanka" for the first time told in the autumn of 2015. Employees of PMC Wagner have no relation to any official power structure of the Russian Federation, but for their combat work they received combat orders and medals.
Who despises the Defense Ministry
Officially, it is recognized that during the operation in Syria, 39 Russian servicemen were killed. Killed and wounded fighters of the Wagner Group, the Ministry of Defense should not contribute to its statistics, considering these losses as "the myth of some dead contract workers" from the "mysterious" organization. " Reuters, according to which Russia lost 36 people in Syria in 2016 and approximately 40 in seven months of 2017, Major General Igor Konashenkov, an official representative of the Defense Ministry, considered it a "mockery" worthy of contempt: "Again, as sources, there are some rumors , Data from social networks and fictitious conversations with supposedly "intimidated" anonymous "relatives and acquaintances" (quoted by RIA Novosti).
If "social networks and conversations" are not enough, you need to provide documents and photos. The contents of the documents available to the editorial board confirm the assumptions that from the end of 2015 the private battalion operates in Syria in the interests of the structures of businessman Yevgeny Prigogine, and the training of its soldiers is conducted on the territory of the military unit of the Ministry of Defense in the Krasnodar Territory.
Unaccounted losses of Palmyra
The military actions of Wagner in Syria can be divided into two campaigns.
The first began in September 2015, when the company arrived in Syria. Until early 2016, large-scale operations were not conducted by the unit. Serious fighting and losses began in February-March, during the operation to free Palmira. In April - May 2016, according to our data, the main combatant group divisions, surrendering heavy weapons and equipment were withdrawn from Syria to Russia.
According to the lists, which we believe were drawn up by the administration of the Wagner group, approximately 32 private soldiers perished during this campaign. Heavy wounds, requiring long-term inpatient treatment in hospitals, received about 80 fighters. The approximations in our calculations are explained by the fact that it was not always possible to establish the fate of the wounded who were in critical condition.
The second campaign was launched in early 2017. The documents available to Fontanka are dated June 2017. The main line of business is Palmyra and adjacent oil fields. As accurate evidence as to the period 2015 - 2016's, "Fontanka" does not have. Based on the analysis of available documents and eyewitnesses' words, it is possible to speak of losses ranging from 40 to 60 killed and a two-to-three times greater number of wounded. We also were able to document the membership in the Wagner group of several fighters whose deaths in Syria in 2017 were reported by Fontanka, RBC and the Conflict Intelligence Team.
In between the two operations in Syria were security units, as well as groups of specialists who participated in local skirmishes. During this period, mountain Latakia, oil fields Shaer and Aleppo are mentioned.
The documents that have fallen into our hands - autographically filled application forms, copies of passports from "personal files", photos of candidates made in the "security service" - allow us to confidently talk about the belonging of fighters to the structure that is known as "Wagner's PMs" and Which in the documents is called the "Wagner Group", "Battalion-tactical group" Wagner "or simply" company ".
The fact of the death of the fighter is harder to establish, but in most cases we succeeded. Comments of officials, media reports, especially in those media that can not be attributed to the opposition, photos of graves, messages of grieving relatives in social networks and condolences from friends, in our opinion, are sufficient evidence.
The most difficult question is to confirm the place of death. "Fontanka" believes that at least ten to fifteen cases could convincingly prove this.
For example, in March 2016 photos on the Internet resources of the Islamic state (banned in Russia) appeared, which were allegedly taken from murdered Russians who fought on the side of Assad. Among them - several photos of a fair-haired guy with a memorable face in Syrian landscapes. On the video footage - the mutilated body of the same person.
Fontanka set the name of the deceased. This is Ivan Vladimirovich Sumkin, born in 1987. Call sign "Varangian", Wagner's reconnaissance. He is from a village in the Orenburg region. Urgently served in motorized rifle troops, then worked as an electric welder. In the spring of 2015 he came to Wagner. March 16, 2016 was lost. Where is the grave of Ivan Sumkina, and whether he was even buried, it is not known - according to the "Fontanka", his body was not taken out of the battlefield. Ivan had a wife and a two-year-old son.
A video about awarding the Order of Courage to Alexander Karchenkov appeared on Channel 9 of Stary Oskol on November 3, 2016. It was reported that on September 7, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on the posthumous awarding of the old fellow O. Karchenkov, who died during the liberation of Palmyra in the spring of 2016. The order of the widow and mother of Karchenkov was presented by the head of the district.
Lyudmila Karchenkova said that her husband went to Syria for contract service in January 2016, and in March reported that he died "while performing the assignment."
Alexander Karchenkov is not in the official lists of the deceased published by the Ministry of Defense, on which General Konashenkov proposes to orient himself. And of course the 45-year-old unemployed, the reserve sergeant, could not be a secret officer of the Special Operations Forces.
As follows from the documents of the company Wagner, Karchenkov got a job there in December 2015, was part of a logistics company and died March 13, 2016. Indeed under Palmyra. As proof - a picture of Karchenkov made during the recording on the service on the basis of Wagner in Molkino, a self-filled questionnaire, a contract and a subscription on non-disclosure of information.
Similar stories are more than forty with only known names. Syrian martyrology "Fontanka" - it's documents, photos, awards "Wagner". Everyone on admission to the "job" filled out a questionnaire, each one was photographed and checked on a polygraph. These documents were first available to readers. We publish stories of men who went to war for 240,000 rubles a month and found their death in the Syrian desert. Someone said "patriotism" or "changing the geopolitical position of Russia" as the reason for the receipt. Most referred to loans and a desire to improve their financial situation.
Two Russian citizens who did not return from Syria did not enter this list. Fighters with callsigns "Altai" and "Bertolet" (their full data are known to the editorial staff) are considered missing. They disappeared on the same day that Ivan Sumkin was killed, whose body remained on the battlefield.
The chances that Altai and Bertollet are alive and in captivity are minimal, but there is such an opportunity, and Fontanka refrains from publishing their names and photographs.
How Wagner got lost in Molkino
The fact that the personnel formation and training of the Wagner group are held on the territory of the military base in the settlement of Molkino in the Krasnodar Territory, where the 10th separate brigade of special forces of the GRU of the Ministry of Defense is stationed, wrote Fontanka, RBC, Wall Street Journal and Zeit. In social networks, dozens, if not hundreds, of evidence that for the device in the "PMC" you have to go to Molkino and keep the path straight to the checkpoint with the question of Wagner. But for the Ministry of Defense this is not an argument, because it is regarded as rumors and slander.
After studying the photos of Wagner's security service made during the check of the candidates accepted for work, Fontanka believes that these photos convincingly prove that an armed structure not provided for by any law of Russia is located exactly in the territory of the Molkino test site. In the Fontanka investigation, you can see how the "Wagner" dealers are treated and even see the head of the mysterious "security service of the company".
A tramp, Gray-haired, Wagner and Ratibor surrounded the president
The commanders of the "mysterious organization" do not hide persons. In December 2016, the group's commander Dmitry Utkin and his deputy Andrei Troshev appeared on the staff of the protocol shooting of the Fatherland Heroes Day ceremony in the Kremlin. In January 2017, there was a photo on the Net, apparently from the same reception where Utkin and Troshev, as well as two other men with high awards, were sealed together with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"Fontanka" found out who these mysterious gentlemen are next to the president. Their name is Rogue and Ratibor, in the world - Andrey Bogatov and Alexander Kuznetsov. One of them, only before the Ukrainian events, was released from the colony, where he served time for kidnapping and robbery. The other had no violations worse than the wrong parking.
Palmira-2016 and Palmira-2017
The Kremlin reception of December 2016 is the highest point of Wagner's take-off. Then something went wrong. The fighting in Syria in 2016 and in 2017, as the veterans of both campaigns told Fontanka, differ dramatically.
In 2015 - 2016, according to participants in the events, training in Molkino took up to two months, ammunition for study was allocated in unlimited quantities, including costly shots to anti-tank missile systems. In Syria, the group received T-72 tanks, BM-21 Grad launchers, 122 mm D-30 howitzer. The States of the sample of the spring of 2016 provided for 2,349 personnel, including four reconnaissance and assault companies, a group command, a tank company, a combined artillery group, reconnaissance and support units. In the Syrian business trip there were at the same time 1,5-2,000 fighters. Military wages and bonuses were paid on time, the orders were not stingy.
At the end of that spring of 2016, there was a first misunderstanding. About the fact that the title of Hero of Russia on the initial agreement were presented to the five commanders of the Wagner Group, Fontanka was informed by several informed interlocutors. Through the filter of the award department passed two.
Before the withdrawal from Syria in April-May 2016, heavy weapons and military equipment were surrendered. Most of the personnel sent to the reserve - to stay at home and wait for a call on a business trip. When at the end of 2016 they began to gather a team for a new expedition to the oil fields, it turned out that everything had changed.
Now, on the basis of Wagner in Molkino, there is almost no weapons left, except for several assault rifles, mostly from security guards.
Training is reduced to control firing, calculations of heavy infantry weapons (large-caliber machine guns, automatic machine-gun grenade launchers, machine-gun antitank grenade launchers) do not conduct practical firing from "regular" armament.
Upon arrival in Syria at the beginning of 2017, according to the stories of the returnees, 20 rounds of ammunition were dispatched to the submachine gun, and four magazines and 120 cartridges were used as ammunition. Armament consisted of AK-47 automatic weapons of North Korean production, received from the Syrian side and several Kalashnikov machine guns PC and PKK. The second company received company machine guns of the 1946 model RP-46. In the Soviet Army, these weapons in the army were replaced by the PC and the PKK back in the 60s of the last century.
After a couple of weeks, several SVD sniper rifles and one or two AGS-17 received weapons, which in principle did not solve the problem.
Instead of the T-72 tanks delivered in the spring of 2016, four or five T-62s were obtained. Instead of the D-30 howitzers, there are about a dozen M-30 howitzers of the 1938 model, long removed from service in the Soviet Army.
The Fontanka does not have exact data on the losses in the battles of January-May 2017. Based on fragmentary and not documented stories, we can talk about 40 - 60 dead and three times the number of wounded. It is known that seven Wagner fighters who died in 2017, and all of them, apparently, did not return from Syria, as the group's activities in the Donbas are curtailed.
The number of losses exceeding the losses of 2016 at times, according to the participants in the events, is explained not only by the shortage of weapons and military equipment, but also by the significantly reduced quality of personnel.
In 2017, the salary policy of Wagner's company changed. Now 240 thousand per month receives only the fighter of the reconnaissance-assault company, involved in combat operations. The guard of the Hayat factory, artillerymen, operators of unmanned aerial vehicles, security units receive about 160 thousand rubles a month. In contrast to past years, there are delays.
Decrease in quality try to compensate by quantity. In addition, two reconnaissance and assault companies are deployed. Thus, the number of mouths brought to six, and the infantry in the group - up to about 2 thousand people. Today four companies work in Syria, two companies are temporarily sent to the reserve.
"Spring" in Syria
An additional source of recruitment for Wagner is the population of Donbass. Until 2017, citizens of Ukraine (or the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics) were not accepted to Wagner. The exception was the group "Carpathians", formed mainly from ethnic Ukrainians. The composition of this group was planned to be used for sabotage and deep reconnaissance in the rear of the Ukrainian troops, but, as they say, due to weak training of personnel, these plans failed.
In 2017, the group was deployed to the division "Spring" (by the call sign), its strength was brought to 100-150 people. In addition to Ukrainians, the group included residents of the Cossack regions of Russia and fifteen or twenty natives of Chechnya.
Oil, gas, Euro Polis
As of August 2017, according to Fontanka, the work of Wagner's units in Syria is to protect and defend the oil-bearing areas with the main facility - the Khayan plant. If possible, promotion and seizure of the territory.
The main base is located on the tankodrome about 80 kilometers from Homs and 40 kilometers from the Khayan factory. In addition to Wagner, the detachments of Hezbollah, the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards and similar units are based on the "Tankodrome", including the showcase Syrian "Hunters for IGIL", the heroes of pathos pr-video. They are promised 500 US dollars for the twenty days of the operation, but the Syrians, judging by the stories of the Wagnerites, do not agree to fight on such terms, and often, after receiving military training, go to the armed opposition or to the most banned ISIG in Russia, hunt.
"Fontanka" already told about the agreements reached between the governmental organizations of Syria and Russian LLC "Euro Polis", behind which are people from the structures of billionaire Eugene Prigogine. OOO "Euro Policy" undertook to release and protect oil fields and plants for reimbursement of combat costs plus a quarter of the produced oil and gas. That is, to do exactly what the Wagner group is doing today (about the probable connections with which we talked with Yevgeny Prigozhin at the time of the "first Palmyra"). They say that now blue jackets with a white inscription "Euro Polis" are issued to all Wagner employees, who are going down on a Syrian business trip.
Judging by our information, since 2017, funding for Wagner's campaign, its supply of weapons, equipment and ammunition is carried out at the expense of the Syrian side and is accompanied by constant delays in payments and disputes over their amount.
Why did Sergei Kuzhugetovich quarrel with Eugene Viktorovich
In 2016, Wagner's group clearly did not experience such problems. Now it became bad not only with the supply: as the eyewitnesses told Fontanka, the interaction with the army aviation and artillery (which was supposedly routine in 2016) was reduced almost to zero, the Russian group's helicopters do not take part in the evacuation of the wounded Wagner battalion, which significantly Complicates their delivery to medical institutions. Military transport aircraft allegedly no longer transport wounded Wagnerians, and they have to be taken out almost in the cargo compartments of charter flights of a Syrian airline flying to Rostov.
The causes of the coming cooling, according to the sources of the "Fontanka", may be different.
Perhaps, the conflict is caused by a weak conspiracy in the activity of a quasi-military organization. If CSKA were willing to tolerate an incomprehensible private structure on their territory, supply it with weapons, equipment and support with fire as long as this remained a secret, then since the appearance of numerous information about Wagner and his team on the web, the situation has changed. It is unlikely that the military command wants to be held responsible for the actions of the detachment, not bound by any formal laws and acting outside the law. One can not but note the coincidence: the time of the urgent withdrawal of Wagner from Syria with actual disarmament and suspension of acquisition and the time of publication of the "Fontanka" about Dmitry Utkin and his team.
According to one of the versions, the reason was not at all frivolous for state people: the dispute about the number and dignity of awards. The "Fontanka" has reason to believe that the cause of cooling is much more significant.
Investigations of Fontanka, RBC, Novaya Gazeta, other media, and the Anti-Corruption Fund of Aleksei Navalny have convincingly demonstrated the almost monopolistic position of Yevgeny Prigozhin in the state purchases of the Ministry of Defense and subordinate military structures. The legal entities connected with Prigogine receive the lion's share of orders for the construction and maintenance of military towns, cleaning, and occupy almost the entire military supply market.
Judging by the open information on the website of the Main Military Prosecutor's Office, numerous claims and proceedings on administrative offenses in arbitration courts and courts of general jurisdiction, companies associated with the name of Yevgeny Prigogine and Concord Holding have been growing since 2016. Companies and officials are brought to administrative responsibility for violation of license requirements and for non-compliance with labor law standards, army control bodies after inspections of military canteens identify and document cockroaches, products with traces of mold and putrefaction, and then resort to penal sanctions. Military prosecutors record the production of construction works without the relevant documents, permits, projects and respond - within the limits of authority.
At the same time, a situation has arisen where the same military supply system, for example, is completely closed to the structures of Concorde and its restructuring promises many problems. A similar situation with the maintenance and construction of military towns. It seems that the military department can not abandon the services of the monopolist, although the leadership of the Ministry of Defense is unlikely to be happy with this state of affairs.
Games with their own private army, when the possible profits go to the corporation, and all the cones fall on the military, who are responsible for the operation in Syria, could fill the cup of patience.
Another question is the level at which a decision is made to use (and about the very existence) a private battalion. And whose word at that level weighs more: the Minister of Defense or the owner of the restaurant "Russian Kitsch."