"People ask us about our recent secret trip. Now we can openly speak of where we went to and who we went with. Sky News journalists invited us to participate in their investigation over the recent deaths of Russian officers. We travelled to see their graves and spoke on camera to their neighbors and relatives. I was interviewed about the results of our investigation and everything was filmed by the Sky News crew. Here is the link to the Sky News video report. We want to point out that Sky News uncovered additional evidence of the facts that we published earlier. Below are some details of this investigation.
Anton Saveliev.Tambov, Russia.
We visited a store where aunt of Anton Saveliev, one of the three deceased GRU officers, works as a sales person. Immediately after Sky News reporters began questioning her about her nephew she became agitated and practically kicked us out of the store. When we approached Anton's house, we recognized his mother Natasha in a woman sitting on a bench in front of the house. She denied who she was and kept saying "Natasha has gone to Moscow." The reporters spoke with the neighbors and they confirmed that Anton was a military officer and got killed when fighting in Ukraine.
Timur Mamayusupov. Village Kuk-Tyaka, Republic Tatarstan, Russia.
In Kuk-Tyaka we visited Timur's grave. It was strikingly similar to Anton's; it had same wreaths from the Russian Ministry of Defense, from Timur's military unit command, from his military comrades, and from the District commissariat.
We spoke with Timur's mother.
She did not show any aggression towards us, but wasn't especially chatty either. "Why disturb his memory," she said. "Let him rest in peace. He wouldn't like talking about it". She confirmed Timur served as a contract officer and his contract was due to expire next year. In June Timur was supposed to come home for vacation. Early in 2015, after his last vacation and right before Timur returned to his unit, his mother asked him not to go to Ukraine. He told her he was an officer and must do as ordered, but would let her know if he is to be deployed there. The fact that he never told her and the official paper stating that Timur was killed during a Special Forces anti-terrorist operation in the Northern Caucasus make her believe that he indeed never went to Ukraine.
She says the official paper states he died from a bullet wound (she refused to show us the actual document). Timur was delivered in a coffin with a small window in it. She never opened the coffin, but the body looked intact as far as she could tell. She also told us that other soldiers from his unit were coming for a 40-day commemoration of his death. She noted she was forced to remove her social media accounts because of the barrage of vile insults and threats: "Why would people say those things? It wasn't Timur's fault; he was just doing his job". According to her, Russian officials never spoke to her, nor did anyone warn her against speaking to journalists.
Ivan Kardapolov. Demarino village, Chelyabinsk region, Russia.
Our next stop was Demarino village, where Ivan Kardapolov is buried. On our way there we met one of our followers that started his own investigation after having read our post. He personally visited Ivan's grave and spoke to his relatives. I had never met this man in person, so I thanked him for helping us.
Wreaths on Ivan's grave resembled those of Anton and Timur. Right next to it was a grave of Ivan's brother who died in an accident. In Demarino village we knocked on the door of Ivan's house and were greeted by his brother Victor who had spoken to our follower before. Victor was not pleased to see us: "Don't you have anything better to do?" he said and walked away, slamming the door in front of our faces. Then his wife came out. She was aggressive and demanded we left or she would call the police.
We decided to drive through the village and see if we could interview the locals. Some of them were not camera shy and told us Ivan indeed served in the Russian Spetsnaz and was killed fighting in Ukraine.
I returned to Moscow. While our colleagues were preparing the report, president Putin signed a law that classified information about deaths of Russian military personnel in a peacetime. Because of that Sky News delayed airing the report to consult their lawyers, as they did not want to get any of us in trouble. The report was aired on June 10.
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[copy of their response];
and further to the Commander of the Western Military District (16th elite brigade of Spetsnaz GRU belongs to the Western Military District, however territory of the Northern Caucasus is not included in it):
[copy of their response]
The request was subsequently sent to the Ministry of Defense, but no response has been received from there.
The first public comment from the head of the press service of the Central Military District appeared today.
New investigations, further plans
Despite Putin's decree, we go on conducting the investigation of newly found facts. We will only publish them when materials of the next investigation are sufficiently ready. Our work concerns not only "cargo 200". For example, quite an ambitious and dangerous operation (all offline) is being developed at the moment to track military machinery at Rostov.
Answers to some questions
We are sometimes asked about the reasons of announcing our activities in advance, or telling public of our investigations, or our asking people to donate to arrange the trips; we get recommendations to keep quiet until we are quite ready to put out the results dramatically in one day. The problem is that in case with investigations, work with public opinion does not differ much from, for example, work on a rally. We believe that we must bring our information to as many people as possible, we have to draw attention, and to do that we have to carry out a long "advertising campaign" anticipating the upcoming investigation, we have to publicize it and disclose some details, etc. Similarly with rallies: if you announce a loud rally a day before the scheduled date, a few people will know of it for sure, but you will only be able to gather about one hundred of them. But if you spend a month on PR activities, if you prepare the audience, if you drum it up, then 50,000 people will come, and 100,000 will come, and everyone will know of it.
The same is with donations. In order to conduct investigations effectively, to go on trips, you have to collect money, but people are only ready to donate when they are particularly interested and involved in something. Therefore, when you ask to donate without pegging your requests to a specific inquiry, or a trip, you can hardly collect any amount, and all your work stops dead in its tracks. But when you tie your activities to an event or to a specific inquiry, or like we did it with Vadim in Tambov, where we were almost reporting online, then it works a bit better.
Similarly with the PR. Yes, we are working for the sake of PR too, and we give interviews for PR. Because audience is only acquired through public relations, when more people can learn about your investigations. Then the impact of your activities starts growing, they stop being useless.