In 1991, he "volunteered" (or so he claims) to fight in the First South Ossetian war for South Ossetia; in 2014-2015, he fought in the Donbas as a member of "Odessa" (an armed terrorist group whose members are implicated in the abduction, torture and murder of Elena Kulish and Vladimir Alekhin, a married couple from Peremozhnoe in Lugansk region). Now Astakhov works as a driver/cash-in-transit guard at Russian CIT Association "Rosinkas" in Saint-Petersburg.
He was recruited in June 2014 through the so-called "Moscow military enlistment office of the Donbas citizen soldiers". He also exchanged letters with a certain Rustam Samrullin email@example.com. "Rustam" sent his letters from the following IP-addresses: 126.96.36.199 (USA, University of Michigan, College of Engineering) and 188.8.131.52 (Netherlands, Snel.com B.V. (the provider)), probably, using a proxy server or Tor. Here is one of the letters:
Urgent!! IT IS IMPERATIVE that you arrive in Rostov precisely on JULY 18. Plan your journey so as to arrive in Rostov on July 18; if you get there earlier, say, on July 17, you will have to wait there until July 18 at your own expense. No point in coming on July 19: no one will meet you. Upon arrival in Rostov, go across the station square and towards the railroad viaduct (in the direction of the bus station) until you reach the archway. A man (and a car) will wait for you there at 10:00 am, 03:00 pm, 08:00 pm, and 11 pm. You will be in civvies and have your passport on you. You will also have, in your BAGS: a camouflage uniform, a change of underwear, socks, 3 days worth of food, a tactical vest, and, if possible, a walkie-talkie. Contact phone: 79281690434 (Rostov); call upon arrival. AVOID CALLING until July 18, unless you must (say, getting lost is not a good reason to call). Let me know if you are coming / not coming to Rostov before July 13!!
LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING YOU HERE, THANK YOU!
On July 4, 2014, Astakhov waited in Shakhty (the Rostov region) to be transported to Donbas. Within two weeks, he was already fighting for the Dolzhansky check point. Later, in early August, his unit was withdrawn from the Donbas back to the Rostov region for a let-up at a military field camp.
On Aug. 29, 2014, Astakhov wrote a letter that included the following phrase: "Hello from Krasnodon!". Several photos (taken, according to the EXIF data, on Aug. 24, 2014) were attached to the letter, featuring him posing with a modern Russian version of the SVD-M Dragunov sniper rifle, an unidentified scope and a PK-M machine gun.
Another letter, also sent on Aug. 24, 2014, includes the following remark: "My two trips: Dolzhanka-Izvaryno-Krasnodon", and photos taken on Aug. 24, 2014, with Russian "humanitarian aid" trucks behind him. By way of reminder, the first Russian convoy of "humanitarian aid" trucks intruded, in violation of the international law, into Ukraine on Aug. 22, 2014; on Aug. 23, 2014, all those trucks left Ukraine.
That is, at 11:39 am on Aug. 24, Astakhov poses with the white KAMAZ trucks behind him in Rostov region, and already at 05:32 p.m. on Aug. 24 with a new sniper rifle and a machine gun.
A month later, Astakhov takes a series of photos of weapons and military equipment, namely: SPG-9 and AGS-17 tripod-mounted grenade launchers, an NSV Utes heavy machine gun on a mount, 9K111 Fagot missile launchers, crates with 9M111-2 Fagot missiles, crates with 9K38 Igla portable missile launchers, a ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft cannon, and the 1989 version of Russian T-72B tank that is not operated by the Armed Forces of Ukraine and therefore could not have been captured as a trophy.
In November 2014, Astakhov apparently returned to Saint-Petersburg to raise donations (such as food, uniforms, shoes and ammunition) for terrorists fighting in Donbas. One of the letters from the so-called "diplomatic mission" of the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) in Saint-Petersburg headed by a Saint-Petersburg Legislative Assembly member Vitaly Milonov, instructed Astakhov on how to deliver the cargo to the occupied part of Donetsk region of Ukraine:
The procedure is as follows:
1. Fill out/correct the relevant data (cargo weight, unloading address, contact details of the person receiving the cargo there, etc.) in the attached file and send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Specify the unloading point on the cargo.
3. Deliver the cargo to Milonov's warehouse in Kronstadt where it will be loaded into the truck. Address: 7 Kronstadtskoe Shosse. Shipment time should be agreed with Ivan (Milonov's aide, +7-911-928-16-61). Trucks and porters for the transportation of cargo from Saint-Petersburg to Kronstadt will be provided by a company called "Gruzovichkov".
To order a Gazelle van (subject to agreeing the shipment time with Ivan), give me a text at +7-931-239-47-53 specifying loading time, loading address, unloading address and a contact phone at the loading point.
4. The truck will be loaded and dispatched on Friday, Dec. 26, 2014.
5. Tell the people on the other side that the truck is on its way.
Best regards, Evgeniy Andrushchenko