Translation from Dossier Center report: Abwehr for Wagner
How the security service of Evgeny Prigozhin works
Translation from Dossier Center Investigation
February 20, 2023
The most closed formation in the secret business empire of Yevgeny Prigozhin is the Wagner PMC. The most secret part of Wagner is the so-called special department responsible for ensuring the security and secrecy of the enterprise.
It seems that it is time to disperse him for incompetence. It is the security service, unable to ensure its own confidentiality, from year to year that becomes the main supplier of information about the underground (and often clearly criminal) activities of the Kremlin "cook" Prigozhin. Information about the Wagner group would never have been so accessible if it were not for regular leaks from the unit responsible for secrecy. It's time to pay tribute to these harsh professionals and tell you more about them. Meet: the special department of Wagner PMC.
How we got the materials for this investigation and why we trust them
What is a special department
A special department, or, as is often abbreviated in Wagner's internal documents, OSO, is a division of Yevgeny Prigozhin's security service responsible for maintaining secrecy, personnel, financial, and information security in PMCs. Its employees check candidates for service, control how funds are spent, monitor compliance with discipline, and try to stop any unauthorized dissemination of information.
The OSO routine is an ongoing struggle with the unstoppable desire of the personnel to take pictures (preferably with weapons) against the backdrop of an exotic landscape and send pictures to family, friends, acquaintances, or even put them on public display somewhere in Odnoklassniki. Terrible order No. 1 is brought to all fighters against signature - both when recruiting and when sent on a regular business trip.
Some successes have been achieved, 2022 cannot be compared with 2014 or even 2017, when photos from both Ukraine and Syria were geotagged in social networks in huge quantities. But it is not possible to defeat the need for militants in pictures.
Documents on the storage of mobile phones. Source: Dossier Center
Even the commanders of Wagner's main tactical units, the assault squads, cannot live without social media. Moreover, even the leadership of the special department does not follow its own rules.
The head of the entire structure is 38-year-old Ruslan Bogdanovich Mikhailov (before the change of data 10 years ago, according to the Rospassport database, - Ruslan Allohverdievich Akhmedov ) from the city of Lugi, Leningrad Region. In a past life - detective of the Department of Internal Security of the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region. According to the Luga law enforcement officers, the change of patronymic and surname just coincided with the transfer to the CSS.
As we have already said, the constant concern of the special department is to ensure that fighters and commanders are not photographed in places where service and combat missions are performed, especially in military uniform and even more so with weapons. In the photo below, chief security officer Ruslan Mikhailov (on the right) demonstrates by his own example how this requirement is observed. On the left in the picture is Alexander Yastreb , and in the middle is the "executive director" of the PMC and the holder of the title "Hero of Russia" Andrey Troshev . They are in uniform, it is easy to determine from the photo that it was made in Syrian Latakia.
Weapons, however, are not visible, but it does not matter. There is a photo with weapons: here is the same Mikhailov in the company of colleagues with a pistol on his side.
Alexander Yastreb, next to whom Mikhailov is standing, is known by the call sign "Asiat". He likes to be photographed with weapons, and in conversations with supervised personnel he can make a blur, mentioning that he served in Interpol before Wagner. In fact, he is a former police officer from the city of Krasnoperekopsk in Crimea. Yastreb resigned from the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs a few years before the annexation of the peninsula. According to informed interlocutors of the Dossier Center from the ranks of Wagner, Alexander Yastreb served as a district police officer. What he did after his dismissal from the police and before being recruited into the PMC is not known.
Mikhailov's deputy in the special department of the PMC is Alexander Parkhomenko with the call sign " Pazik ". Parkhomenko graduated from a secondary special school in Yeysk with initial flight training, then completed military service as a sailor. Then - a contract in the Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, where from 1999 to 2009 he went from private to deputy company commander. At the time of joining Wagner PMC, he was an installer in a small Krasnodar company. He was enlisted as a shooter in a security company, but quickly rose to the position of deputy head of the OSO.
In total, there are about 20 operatives in the special department. The social networks of some of them raise questions. For example, here is a page on the social network of a former OSO employee with the call sign " Veduga ", in civilian life - Denis Matsaev . On it you can find the Nazi slogan Meine Ehre heißt Treue ("My honor is loyalty"). Matsaev was nevertheless fired from Wagner in 2020, and when he was looking for a job in Moscow, instead of a PMC, he indicated a certain Kana LLC as a place of work in 2016-2020.
The Dossier Center tried to contact the special officers by calling some employees on the phones known to us and sending messages, but most of the Wagnerites now do not have access to communications - war. Ruslan Mikhailov himself read the report of the Dossier correspondent, but left it unanswered.
I was lucky to get through only to an employee of the special department of the PMC with the call sign " Mario " - a former fighter of the Rostov SOBR Roman Chernysh .
Mr. Chernysh tried to convince us for several minutes that after his dismissal from the SOBR he was a pensioner, he only read about the Wagner PMC on the Internet and had nothing to do with this structure, as well as with other private armies.
In response to a question whether he owns a white Lexus NX, which is regularly parked in the parking lot of the Wagner base in Molkino near Krasnodar, Roman recalled that the car was his. He said that he came to exchange experience in the 10th special forces brigade of the Ministry of Defense, but he still denied his involvement in Wagner.
The data leak made it possible not only to get acquainted with the leadership of the special department, but also to learn about their work, and most importantly, the situation prevailing among the mercenaries. PMC "Wagner" is excluded from the legal space of Russia, therefore, several retired policemen and former military personnel keep order in it, caricaturally replacing the investigation, the prosecutor's office, and the court. The fact that outside of Wagner is a serious crime, inside the company becomes only an excuse for an “internal audit” of a special department, the results of which can only be reprimanded or fined.
One such incident took place on February 23, 2019, at the location of Wagner mercenaries at the Hayan gas processing plant in Syria - on that day a grenade exploded there. In their own documents, the Wagnerians call this object "Karakum". As a result of the explosion, one militant was injured, and another, 30-year-old Dmitry Dmitrienko with the call sign "Chicha", died on the spot (the Dossier has a photograph of the body). The check of the special department established: the signalman Boris Chentsov (aka “Seventh”) took out ammunition from his backpack and a check fell out of a grenade lying there. Hearing the clap of the fuse, Chentsov realized that the explosion would occur in 4 seconds. He rushed to the exit and threw away his backpack along the way - right with a grenade. There were five people left in the room where it exploded. The perpetrator of the incident was not hurt.
The verdict after considering the case is to compensate for the damage. The OSO had information about a conflict in the team - Chentsov himself and his platoon commander pointed to it - but everyone was satisfied with the version of an accidental explosion. It is worth noting that the pin of the fuse of a hand grenade is easily removed only in feature films, but in practice, if you do not first straighten the antennae of the checks, it is not easy to pull it out even for a strong man.
Chentsov's explanation of the explosion. Source: Dossier Center
There was no criminal investigation into the death of a Russian citizen - the investigation of a special department of an illegal military group that exists outside the Russian legal field turned out to be enough. Boris Chentsov himself refused to discuss the circumstances of the incident with Dossier, referring to some kind of "non-disclosure agreement."
Prohibition in PMCs
Drugs and alcohol are strictly prohibited in the Wagner Brigade. Those who are noticed in use face, as a rule, deprivation of the due payments and dismissal with blacklisting without the right to re-admission. An exception can be made only in the case of a special value of a particular specialist for the "company" and subject to the insignificance of the offense.
All this does not help. The fighters still drink and use, and then they also sort things out in the Syrian desert. An indicative episode was found in the archives of the special department of the PMC: in March 2019, Wagner tankers celebrated their birthday near Deir ez-Zor. For the holiday, the tank commander bought three bottles of vodka at the local market, which he drank with his subordinates. After drinking, he quarreled with his own gunner and slashed him with a burst from a machine gun. The gunner was hospitalized with a thigh wound.
The commander of the tank with the call sign "Chief" Dmitry Tronin was taken to the "brigade commander" Dmitry Utkin for analysis. Whether he was punished, it was not possible to establish. By the way, Utkin’s resolution on the materials of an internal audit is a double lightning bolt, it is also a “zig” rune, an unambiguous symbol of the SS.
With drugs, judging by the certificates of the special department, the situation is similar. Here is the report of the head of the OSO Mikhailov addressed to Utkin: four Wagnerites from among the command staff, according to him, used drugs - and this is in one platoon.
Drink not only ordinary militants, but also commanders, not being afraid of dismissal. Having used something relaxing, they can even encroach on the gift of Prigogine himself. We were helped to find out about this by the certificates of a former OSO employee with the call sign “Veduga”.
A Wagnerian with the call sign "Dymych" was caught using barbiturates, recruited by special officers and began to tell unsightly things: not only did "the entire headquarters" use banned phones in the 6th detachment, certain "Grinya" and "Favorit" also own phones, and the latter also and uses either marijuana or psychotropic substances. It turns out that in the area of responsibility of the detachment, the house of the local authoritative field commander Abdul Hussein was robbed, to whom "SP ... once gave a watch." This watch was never found, and, according to Dymych, it was Favorit who could have stolen it. This is almost sacrilege, since the “SP” in the certificate is obviously “Sergey Petrovich”, that is, the code name of the owner of the Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin.
A fighter with the call sign "Book" tells "Veduga" about the events in Africa. The militants "Zmeelov" and "Moldavan" got drunk and argued about the order of assembly and disassembly of the Kalashnikov machine gun. In the process, "Zmeelov" beat "Moldavan" half to death with a shovel. Their platoon commander extorted from them either 50,000 or 150,000 rubles for concealing this fact from their superiors, scaring them that the next day they would have to pay 240,000. The true names of the mentioned fighters are known to the Dossier, but are unlikely to be of interest to anyone outside of the PMC.
Wagnerians can do anything
Despite the fact that from a legal point of view, the Wagner special department is an empty place, even military counterintelligence treats it with fear and respect. Severe army Chekists, a threat to the entire personnel of the Russian army, in a collision with ordinary Wagnerites immediately lose their power and can only humbly ask for a replacement for the mercenary who sent them away.
This is how it looks in the materials of one of the internal checks of the special department of the Wagner PMC. On February 16, 2019, a sniper from the 5th assault detachment of the Gray PMC (Sergey Reshetnikov) came to discuss some issues at the army headquarters in Deir ez-Zor, Syria. Major Sergei Tesakov of the military department of the FSB, who is in charge of counterintelligence support of the headquarters, asked who he was, but Reshetnikov refused to introduce himself. After some time, the major overtook "Grey" in the smoking room of the headquarters and again asked him to show his documents and tell a little about himself. However, the Wagnerian stood his ground and, apparently, simply sent a counterintelligence officer.
Major Tesakov wrote a complaint - a few days later, Prigozhin's special officers had to go to the real chief special officer of the Russian group, Lieutenant Colonel Andrey Kartashov for a conversation. Judging by the report, Kartashov had no complaints and explained that Tesakov was new to them. And all he asks is to replace Reshetnikov with another employee. The document states that the commander of the group did not like “Gray” either, and he did not let him go to meetings for two weeks. For what reasons the sniper could even attend some meetings with the participation of the general, is not specified.
Explanation of Grey. Source: Dossier Center
The relationship of the official military special department with the special department of PMC Wagner points to a strange hierarchy. For example, in order to obtain information, the assistant commander for security, Lieutenant Colonel Kartashov, sent an official request signed by Wagner (referred to in these documents as the “O[operational] G[group] Shield-2”) with his signature with an outgoing number and registration.
In response, he received a piece of paper, on which, instead of a signature, there was a faceless “OG Shield-2”. For receiving this paper without a signature and details, the counterintelligence officer who received it signed. That is, the military side complies with all the formalities, and the PMC gets off with silly letters.
We could not get in touch with Lieutenant Colonel Kartashov, but we got through to Major (probably also already Lieutenant Colonel) Tesakov. The counterintelligence officer confirmed that it was he who had the phone, but after a question about his interaction in the service with the Wagner group in 2019, he endlessly repeated: “You must have been mistaken.” Perhaps we called at the wrong time - the noise of a cheerful feast was heard in the background.
How else does a special department of Wagner PMC unwittingly help journalists?
Without the help of a special department, it would have been much more difficult for us to identify many of the participants in the massacre of the Syrian El-Ismail. He was tortured, then killed, and his body was dismembered and burned in Syria in the summer of 2017. The special department then could not prevent the distribution of videos of the execution on the Web. In 2019, Novaya Gazeta reliably identified the name of one of the executioners, but the identities of the others remained in doubt. Thanks to the materials of the check of the special department, the list of participants in this crime were significantly replenished: the “operatives” of the Wagner Security Service, figuring out who could leak the recording to the Internet, meticulously identified many characters, indicating not only their call signs but also real names and surnames. After that, they traditionally leaked their own archive, which allowed them to learn more about this crime - read about it in our investigation.