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Vasyl Hrytsak, SBU Head: “I won’t be surprised if Russia’s Ministry of Defence makes cynical statement about Russian Black Sea Fleet renting a warship to ordinary citizens for a maritime cruise. Who would’ve known that they are murderers and rapists?”

The Security Service of Ukraine continues to document the terrorist activities of Russian special services on the territory of Ukraine.

In particular, new evidence is available on recruitment of mercenaries from among Ukrainian citizens, members of illegal armed groups in the Donbas, and their transfer to Syria by Russian Navy ships for participation in combat operations as part of Wagner PMC, unofficial unit of the Russian military intelligence. At the same time, the received data yet again reveal the lies of the higher command of Russian Army.

For instance, the SBU identified 8 mercenaries who in summer 2016 were delivered to Syria on a large landing ship “Caesar Kunikov” of Russian Black Sea Fleet.

All the mercenaries were part of the Karpaty company tactical team of Wagner PMC, also known as Vesna [Spring] unit following the call sign of its commander, Russian citizen Dmitriev Aleksei Pavlovich, DOB 16.11.1977.

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SBU knows the exact location of the photo of Wagner PMC mercenaries on board of “Caesar Kunikov” ship: aft-based coupled 57-mm artillery unit AK-725 (photo 1) and inter-aft artillery deck, the right side (photo 2).

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The identified persons include 7 citizens of Ukraine and 1 citizen of Russia: – No. 1 – the so-called “Cossack chieftain of the Don Cossack Host” (KSOVD), citizen of Ukraine Safonenko Yuri Viktorovich, DOB 04.02.1967, call sign “Batya”; – No. 2 on both photos – “Cossack captain and Cossack chieftain of the KSOVD, deputy of ‘DNR parliament’”, citizen of Ukraine Bogdanov Oleksiy Valeriyovych, DOB 17.07.1975, call sign “Senya”.

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In 2014, Safonenko and Bogdanov, under the tutelage of Russian intelligence services, formed in Donetsk the so-called “KSOVD detachment”, the formed mainly from criminal elements. For two years, members of this detachment under the shelter of Russian supervisors, terrorized the population of Donbas region. They are responsible for numerous facts of rape, abduction and torture, as well as the killing of civilians in Donetsk. Tellingly, even “Russkaya Vesna”, the informational speaking-trumpet of Russian propaganda in the occupied territories of the Donbas, in 2018 was forced to recognize the perilous crimes of this gang, headed by Safonenko and Bogdanov. KSOVD members received illuminating epithets, such as, in literal translation: “samples of unreal beastiality and cruelty; cut-throats under the guise of Cossacks; a pack of jackals,” etc.

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Due to indignation of the local population by the brutal crimes of the KSOVD gang, the Russian intelligence services disbanded the detachment. At the same time, almost all of its members were assigned to the “infantryman” position in Wagner PMC, an unofficial unit of Main Directorate of General Staff of Russian Army, being sent in fall of 2015 to their first Syrian mission.

No. 3 – “platoon commander of KSOVD detachment,” infantryman of the Karpaty unit, citizen of Ukraine Yaschenko Sergiy Oleksandrovych, DOB 04.10.1972, call sign “Yascher”;

No. 4 – “fighter of KSOVD detachment,” infantryman of the Karpaty unit, citizen of Ukraine Shepel Artem Viktorovych, DOB 24.01.1989.

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No. 5 – “fighter of KSOVD detachment,” infantryman of the Karpaty unit, citizen of Ukraine Mayorov Yevgeny Yuryovych, DOB 21.08.1976, call sign “Makar”;

No. 6 – “fighter of KSOVD detachment,” infantryman of the Karpaty unit, citizen of Ukraine Oleg Grigoriev, DOB 01.12.1974, call sign “Grisha”;

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No. 7 – infantryman of the Karpaty unit, citizen of Ukraine Kulitsa Yuriy Sergiyovych, DOB 15.07.1994;

No. 8 – team commander of the Karpaty unit, citizen of Russia Busygin Yuriy Yuryevich, DOB 10.12.1979.

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At least two mercenaries from the “KSOVD detachment” who were personally involved in the serious crimes of this gang in the Donbas in 2014-2015, were killed during one of the first trips of the Karpaty unit to Syria:

  • citizen of Ukraine Pridkhodko Eduard Evgeniyovych, DOB 27.02.1968, call sign “Boatsman”, killed on March 8, 2016;
  • citizen of Ukraine Kyashko Oleksandr Igorevych, DOB 19.06.1993, call sign “Kesha”, killed on the night of 7 to 8 April 2016;

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In total, the Security Service of Ukraine has already established the ID of 125 citizens of Ukraine involved in the terrorist activities of Russian special services as members of Wagner PMC on the territory of Ukraine, Syria, Central African Republic and Sudan. The presented facts of the use of the naval warship of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Navy for the transfer of mercenaries of Wagner PMC to Syria are a tip of an iceberg. In April 2018, the SBU published a testimony of Russian citizen Kovalenko M.A., a former Russian military serviceman and a direct participant of transfer to Syria of Wagner PMC members (on the “Varyag” missile cruiser, a flagship of the Pacific Fleet of the Russian Navy). The Security Service of Ukraine also released personal data of 20 mercenaries who were delivered to the SAR directly on this warship. Despite the SBU evidence, the official representatives of Russia’s Ministry of Defence categorically denied the use of any ships of the Russian Navy for the transfer of mercenaries. Commenting on the facts established by the SBU on the use of warships of the Russian Navy in the interests of Wagner PMC, unofficial unit of the Russian military intelligence, SBU Head Vasyl Hrytsak noted: “Since October 2017, the Service has held four special briefings and published 22 disclosure materials on the SBU website, with evidence of the involvement of this unit of the Main Directorate of General Staff of Russia’s Armed Forces in the terrorist crimes in Ukraine in 2014-2015. We have circulated the names of more than 200 mercenaries who were killed in the Donbas and in Syria, whose deaths are cynically hidden by the Kremlin. We opened access to the documents about the involvement of particular members of Wagner PMC in the murder of Russian journalists in the CAR; this data was subsequently fully confirmed by the results of independent journalistic investigations. We published discovered by the SBU numerous facts about Russian military intelligence engagement in recruitment to Wagner PMC of citizens of Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Georgia, Tajikistan, Serbia (in order to gain combat experience for their subsequent use in the interests of Russia on the territory of their own countries). We revealed the logistics of the transfer of Wagner troops to Sudan and Libya by military aircraft of the 223 airborne troops of the Russian Air Force. We clearly demonstrated the direct connection between the Main Directorate of General Staff of Russia’s Armed Forces and the Wagner PMC, shedding the light on issuance to several hundred mercenaries of foreign-travel passports at the same Moscow branch of the Directorate of the Federal Migration Service, which is responsible for passport documents of regular officers of Russian military intelligence. Today the SBU unveils yet another secret of Russian special services. We know that this truth, too, will be ducked by the Kremlin. I won’t be surprised if tomorrow Russia’s Ministry of Defence makes cynical statement: “Russian Black Sea Fleet rented a warship to ordinary citizens for a maritime cruise. Who would’ve known that they are murderers and rapists?” But Russian cynical lies can no longer mislead the global community. This lie is a testimony to the fear felt by Russia's political and military leadership for their numerous crimes against humanity around the world.” The Security Service of Ukraine will continue to inform the public about the terrorist activities of the special unit of Russian military intelligence under the brand Wagner PMC. Also, we ask everyone who has recognized other mercenaries on published by SBU photos from “Caesar Kunikov” warship of the Russian Navy, to inform SBU, for the proper documentation of the criminal activity of Russia's special services.

SBU Press Centre


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Zhydkov Dmytro Mykhailovych
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Shevchenko Daniil Borysovych
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Yatsenko Viktor Viacheslavovych
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