One of the well-known Russian tankmen who had fought in the Donbas is Buryat Dorji Batomunkuev, who got burnt in his tank in Debaltseve area. In an interview to Novaya Gazeta Batomukuev named another Russian tankman wounded in the same area, Alexander Minakov.
Minakov's profile in social media was a regular one, with next to no signs of having been in the Donbas (VK profile, archive). His friends include several Donbas militants, as well as Batomunkuev. Minakov never posted a single picture from the hospital. However, in summer 2015, several months after the events in the Debaltseve took place, a picture with him in a wheelchair was uploaded by Russian mercenary Sergey Rozhkov from Yakutsk (photo, archive).
Chances are the photograph was taken in a park of Saint Petersburg military hospital.
Soon after, the image was deleted from VK, and the profiled cleaned up. However, his Odnoklassniki page still included the photos from Minakov's tank youth and the same medal.
The awarding order was signed by Putin on April 16, 2016. This kind of medal is usually offered by the Russian command to high-ranking military, not a private.
"Another Russian soldier awarded with state medal by Putin is a proof that there are no 'volunteers' in the Donbas. Russian soldiers leave for the Ukraine war, burn in tanks sometimes, after which they get awarded with state medals," the authors of the investigation summed up.