Common features identifying Russian military reconnaissance (scouting) personnel, which was present in the Donbas region of Ukraine during military operations of the summer-fall 2014, are the lack of Russian military uniform, presence of white identifying armbands, chevrons of "Novorossiya", "St. George's ribbons" (a black and orange bicolor pattern, with three black and two orange stripes - ed.), as well as military equipment rebranded as "DPR/LPR" armament (some of which was identified during current investigation as the equipment of the Russian Army).
Most of the Russian military reconnaissance unit "veterans", who previously participated in the last year incursions into the Donbas region, are back in the Rostov region (Russia) bordering Ukraine, presumably to take part in another military engagement (based on a new collection of photographs).
The subjects of this investigation are as follows:
1. Avzhinov Viktor Nikolayevich (https://vk.com/avzhinov, archive https://archive.is/EAMLN) is a scout sniper. Despite having relatively small photo collection in social media, Avzhinov did not miss the opportunity to brag about the Medal of Suvorov (registration # 40978) awarded to him by an order of Russian President on Nov. 24, 2014 in one of his posts. Among the photographs, there are several group pictures with the scouts from the 18th Detached Motorized Rifle Brigade dressed as Donbas militants with white identifying armbands, chevrons of "Novorossiya". Among those, one can easily recognize other subjects of this investigation (see the group photo with a "BTR" (an armored vehicle) in the background and a guy in a suit jacket or a picture with his "comrades", which could also be found in photo albums of other subjects on this investigation, the military scouting personnel of the 18th Motorized Rifle Brigade).
2. Volodya Chembeleev (https://vk.com/id191365679, archive https://archive.is/rK5o8), who used to serve in the Russian Airborne Troops (VDV) and has been a military contractor within the 18th Motorized Rifle Brigade since 2013, is probably the most "revealing" subject of the current investigation. His photo albums from 2012 until present have provided many interesting details. The most remarkable pictures posted between years 2014 and 2015 include their show performances at the home base in Chechnya, military exercises of the brigade, strolls along the streets of Grozny, etc.
Just like his "comrade" Avzhinov, Chembeleev was bragging online about the Medal of Suvorov (registration # 41191) awarded to him by order of the Russian President on Dec. 1, 2014. Among the materials uploaded in July-December 2014, there are many slides from his "Ukrainian trip", including group pictures with other "Novorossiya" militants who have covered-up faces and wear characteristic white identifying armbands.
A series of photographs, where Chembeleev is posing next to the T-72B tanks with rashly painted over white triangles as tactical markings, is of particular interest. On the tower of one of the tanks, one can see such triangle being painted over a board number in red starting with "5".
NB: Until recently, tanks (and other military equipment) marked with red 3-digit (starting with a "5") IDs belonged to the 18th Motorized Rifle Brigade stationed in Chechnya and may be found on images of this military unit's equipment posted on the Russian blog "twower" dated Oct. 14 2011. To the best of our knowledge, the T-72B tanks from the 18th Motorized Rifle Brigade were replaced by the T-72B3 model and relocated to the military storage facilities in the Krasnodar region back in 2014. It appears that these tanks were purposefully moved closer to the Ukrainian boarder in order be used in the Donbas region later on.
Finally, a post dated Jan. 13, 2013 entitled "T-72 tanks of the rebels" on the "mishxaxa" blog features several pictures of a "Ritka" tank marked with tactical white triangles. On those images, Chembeleev along with two other "scout-comrades" (identifiable from Chembeleev's photo album) can be seen posing on top of the tank.
3. Alexey Korovin (https://vk.com/id217518702, archive https://archive.is/QCIo3) is a contractor of a scouting unit within the 18th Motorized Rifle Brigade. Although Korovin has not posted many pictures on his VK profile, he has uploaded several "exclusive" video clips. The most interesting one is a video accompanied by a commentary "To the memory of our friend Denis Khusainov, who died in a military operation near village of Novosvitlivka, the Luhansk region, Ukraine. You will always be remembered…," which was uploaded on Nov. 23, 2014 (see a copy http://youtu.be/Ls0n3_bgb40). Interestingly, the R.I.P. photograph of Khusainov could also be found on social media profiles of other members from the 18th Motorized Rifle Brigade.
NB: Denis Khusainov's name can be found in the list of militants from the Vityaz regiment stationed in the "LPR" who were killed in Ukraine (posted on "Krasnodon" web site). Thus the Russian military leadership "reclassified" him as a rebel (rather than a Russian soldier) well in time to hedge the risks and presented his time of death as September 2014 (although he died in August 2014, according to the video created in his memory).
4. Anton Gud (https://vk.com/antongud, archive https://archive.is/KaJA4) has been a contractor of a scouting unit within the 18th Motorized Rifle Brigade. In his photo albums, one can find photographs from the events dating back to the annexation on Crimea and subsequent operations in Ukraine, where he is wearing white identifying armbands, chevrons of "Novorossia", "St. George's ribbons" etc. There are also group pictures of "Novorossia" militants with the abovementioned tanks marked with white triangles and a "BTR-82" in the background. One such picture also features Avzhinov and a guy in a suit jacket (similar (although slightly different) to another photo that was posted by Avzhinov). Finally, his photo and video collections include both a photograph and a video clip in memory of Denis Khusainov (killed in Donbass). The latter was initially a video uploaded by the subject #3 (Korovin) and later shared by Gud.
5. Roman Alexeevskiy (https://vk.com/alexeevskih, archive https://archive.is/2aWn7) is a scout contractor from the 18th Motorized Rifle Brigade, whose photo collection is less informative, but does contain pictures of him wearing the chevrons of "Novorossiya", a poster reading "I am moskal" (a derogatory term for a Russian in Ukrainian - ed.), as well as pictures of him undergoing treatment at a hospital. It also contains a photograph "in memory of Denis Khusainov" killed in the Donbas.
6. Ildar Rinatovich (https://vk.com/id255900576, archive https://archive.is/jmDE4) is a contractor of a scouting unit within the 18th Motorized Rifle Brigade since 2011. Based on a number of photographs (including the group photo against the "BTR" along with two other figurants (Avzhanov (#1) and Gud (#4)) posted on his VK profile, he has also participated in the military campaign in the Donbas in the summer-fall of year 2014. Hi has also uploaded a picture in memory of Denis Khusainov mentioned above on his account.
7. Roman Rorokin (https://vk.com/id207467385, archive https://archive.is/Q7tW3) has been a contractor of a scouting unit within the 18th Motorized Rifle Brigade since 2013 and had participated in the military campaign in the Donbas back in the summer-fall of 2014. One of the photos uploaded by Rorokin in February 2015 has a caption reading "Aug. 2, our scouting unit is leaving the border" and shows other members of the brigade, including the subject #1 Avzhinov.
8. Mikhail Sinishin (https://vk.com/id256613800, archive https://archive.is/SOMuN) is a contractor of the scouting unit within the 18th Motorized Rifle Brigade who also participated in the summer-fall 2014 military campaign in the Donbas. Among his photographs, there are slides taken at the brigade's base as well as the ones from his "service trip to Ukraine" (some contain other subjects from this investigation, incl. the subject #1, Avzhinov). One of the most interesting pictures shows a group of four scouts dressed as "Novorossia" militants and a caption reading "near Volnokhino" (most likely referring to the village of Volnukhyne, an administrative center of Lutuhine district in the Luhansk region).
The last photograph, uploaded by Sinishin on July 12 2015, suggests that he was back in the Rostov region (based on the geo tag) to participate in yet another "Russian-Ukrainian trip." It appears as if he is trying to adopt the image of a "Novorossia" militant again by growing a beard and "getting rid of" all formal attributes of the Russian Army military personnel. On that picture, there are two other Russian military members with the white identifying armbands. Most likely, this unit has already been redeployed to the Donbas, where it participates in provocations aimed at escalating the military conflict.
9. Stas Smolyakov (https://vk.com/id269651666, archive https://archive.is/zlMcs) is a contractor of the scouting unit within the 18th Motorized Rifle Brigade who participated in the summer-fall of 2014 military campaign in the Donbas, based on several pictures from his VK profile, including the photograph (with a "BTR" in the background) from the same series as those found in Chembeleev's (subject #2) collection.
10. Vitaly Viktorovich (https://vk.com/id269831672, archive https://archive.is/T9tt8) is another contractor of the scouting unit within the 18th Motorized Rifle Brigade who also participated in the summer-fall of 2014 military campaign in the Donbas. Among his photographs, there are slides showing him wearing white identifying armbands, a mask and other attributes of "Novorossia" militants as well as a picture of the same "BTR" as seen in Chembeleev's (subject #2) photo albums.
11. Andrey Gultyaev (https://vk.com/id24086308, archive https://archive.is/fSksO) is a contractor of a scouting unit within the 18th Motorized Rifle Brigade who participated in the summer-fall of 2014 military campaign in Eastern Ukraine. Among his photographs, there are slides of his brigade being dislocated at various sites, group photos from his "service trip to Ukraine" where he and his "comrades" are posing with white armbands and other attributes of "Novorossia" militants and military equipment with characteristic white triangles. Many of these pictures belong to the same series of photographs as the ones found in the photo album of Chembeleev. Avzhinov (subject #1) and Chembeleev (subject #2) can be easily identified on some of the group photos of Gultyaev.
Reference: the 18th Detached Motorized Rifle Brigade initially originated from the 42nd Motorized Rifle Division (based in Khankala and Kalinovskaya in Chechnya) during a restructuring of the Russian Army in late 2008. This military unit is one of best trained and equipped one within the Russian Ground Forces. The brigade itself has been recently supplied with the cutting-edge military equipment and contains a "national battalion" represented by the North Caucasus natives, most of whom are former militants who were granted amnesty and later served under Kadyrov and Yamadayev. The military units of this brigade (division) participated in the aggression against Georgia back in August of 2008, and its "Chechen battalion" has been identified in the context of Ukrainian conflict (see the following links):
This investigation by InformNapalm.org is not only informative; it once again provides evidence of Russian military involvement in the ongoing war in the Donbas.