Photo materials handed over to volunteers of InformNapalm volunteer intelligence community by the security forces of Ukraine became the starting point for this OSINT investigation. We were asked for help with additional intelligence and OSINT on these war criminals. In mid-April, we received more than 13 GB of photos and videos for study copied from the smartphone of a Russian serviceman, which was found by the Ukrainian military in the city of Bucha in late March 2022. As established by InformNapalm volunteers, this smartphone belonged to sergeant Petr Zakharov, a contract soldier of the deep reconnaissance company of the reconnaissance battalion of the 64th Motorized Rifle Brigade (MRB), military unit 51460, Knyaz-Volkonskoe town, Khabarovsk Krai of the 35th Army of the Eastern Military District of the Russian Armed Forces. Most of the smartphone’s memory was filled with intimate photos of this Russian contract soldier and his wife, but there were also some useful materials among the garbage. There were group photos of Zakharov’s fellow soldiers, as well as some official documents. We will show a part of them as evidence. These photographs helped us to identify his colleagues, who in March 2022 were operating in the Kyiv Oblast of Ukraine and apparently are directly implicated in the war crimes committed in Bucha, Hostomel and Irpin.
In lieu of a preface. How we established the data of the 64th MRB commander
On April 3, official representatives of the Ukrainian side published an incomplete list of Russian units that took part in the assault on and occupation of the settlements of Bucha, Hostomel, and Irpin. The list was based on intelligence data and things (chevrons, lists, etc.) of Russian military personnel found in the Kyiv Oblast.
Volunteers of InformNapalm took note of this list and, first of all, tried to collect data about the current unit commanders. The first on the list was the 64th MRB, but a simple search did not return the commander’s data. Then the volunteers looked through the videos from the May 9 parades which traditionally take place in different regions of the Russian Federation. It is known that military unit 51460 is stationed in the Khabarovsk Krai, which prompted us to analyze the parade in Khabarovsk in 2021. At 25:30, the announcer said that Lieutenant Colonel Azatbek Omurbekov was in command of the unit’s parade group. This was the first clue. Then, knowing the name, we started looking for his photograph. We took stills from an archive video of his interview which served us as photos of this officer. Also, knowing his full name, we managed to find records about him in the registers. Based on this data, on April 3, InformNapalm published a post on Facebook and Telegram identifying the war criminal. Facebook later removed our post, citing its “Community Standards”. However, while the post was still visible on Facebook, it was spotted by the British media. On April 6, Daily Mail published an article about Lieutenant Colonel Omurbekov with a link to InformNapalm. Based on additional archival data from Russian regional media, we managed to establish one more interesting detail. On November 8, 2021, Metropolitan Archbishop Artemy of Khabarovsk and Amur Region awarded a bishop’s commendation to the the commander of military unit 51460, Lieutenant Colonel Omurbekov, thus giving him a blessing for a “crusade” to the borders of Ukraine.
Let us note that, according to the norms of international law, the unit commander bears full responsibility for the actions of his subordinates and any war crimes that they commit in the combat zone or in the zone of occupation.
Given the above facts, on April 21, the UK Government added Lieutenant Colonel Azatbek Omurbekov to the list of individuals subject to personal sanctions for war crimes in Bucha.
On April 22, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation issued a report which reconfirmed Omurbekov’s direct involvement in the hostilities in Ukraine. The publication also mentioned that he was awarded the next rank of colonel, and his brigade was given the honorary status of “Guards” by personal order of Vladimir Putin. Thus, the Russian military command confirmed that Omurbekov was in command of the brigade and abetted the war crimes committed by his subordinates in the Kyiv Oblast.
From commander to subordinates. List of war criminals based on the phone data of a 64th MRB serviceman.
We closely follow the lists that are periodically published by the Defense Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine (DIU). In particular, on April 4, the personnel roster of the 64th brigade was published on the DIU website. Although this fact is not officially recognized, we know that such lists are normally not very current, and reflect the status as of around 2018 or 2019. For example, Omurbekov was not on the DIU list, as had not been in command of the 64th MRB until 2020. However some investigative journalists who started doing OSINT during the period of the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation took the list as hard evidence of the participation of military personnel in the aggression, which led to some embarrassing mistakes. The list contained many conscripts who had retired from the Russian Armed Forces, therefore it could be used only as an additional source for comparing the data of sergeants and officers, but not as a credible actual proof of their participation in aggression.
However, the phone found directly in the war zone with photographs of soldier’s colleagues represent a more material piece of evidence. Nevertheless, we admit that some of those who were in the photos might not have participated in the crimes. This should be established by the prosecutor’s office for each individual. This publication serves as additional material that can help investigators narrow down the search and establish the degree of actual guilt of each war criminal.
Based on photos and videos, we were able to identify more than 100 servicemen of this brigade. The volume of data is very large, so at the first stage we publish the names of the first 50 Russian military men from the reconnaissance battalion and command of the 64th MRB. Our data contain the identification data of 5 officers of this military unit, in charge of military reconnaissance.
In the process of preparing this publication, we noticed that some profiles of the Russian military were being cleaned up by the Russian intelligence agencies or the military men themselves. For example, the social media accounts of the brigade intelligence commander captain Dmitry Degotya have been deleted, but we still have online archives, so the captain is in for another “surprise”.
It should be noted that the data of the Russian servicemen does not follow a single format (some lists do not have ranks, patronymics, personal numbers and passport data). The identification of the invaders was carried out both by photo identification and analysis of mutual contacts. We received some assistance from an anti-war activist from Khabarovsk, who recently served in the 64th MRB. We also used lists leaked on the Internet on the eve of the Russian military invasion of Ukraine, as well as during the war. These lists have been circulating in specialized hacktivist forums, and now they also appear in the DUI publications. Therefore, most of these lists were already known to us from the hacktivist materials.
According to our estimates, some lists can be called relatively current, some are from 2018-2019, some from the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021. Accordingly, they can be deemed relevant, but still, there could be minor errors in terms of the discharges or appointments of some contract servicemen. Social media accounts of many identified persons are closed or inactive, so some of the photos are of poor quality or very old.
Central subject of our OSINT investigation who lost his phone in the war zone
- Sergeant Petr Zakharov (Rus.: Захаров Петр Артемович) – senior scout of the 2nd squad of the 2nd platoon of the 2nd reconnaissance company of the reconnaissance battalion. Has status of a war veteran. His issued regular weapon is RPK light machine gun No. AV1395.
Born: January 30, 1992, in Lensk city, Republic of Sakha (Yakutia)
Passport: 98 12 453338,
issued by the Department of the Federal Migration Service of Russia for the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) in the city of Yakutsk.
- Khabarovsk Krai, Khabarovsk Raion, Knyaz-Volkonskoye village, DOS quarter, house 44, apt. 3 (2019);
- Kapitonovka village, Yakutsk, Zarechnaya st. 22, 1 (2020).
The identities of the 64th MRB officers were identified on the basis of the submitted reports and applications containing their positions and surnames.
- Captain Andrey Morlang (Rus.: Морланг Андрей Андреевич), reconnaissance battalion commander.
Born: April 1, 1989 in the city of Barnaul.
Education: Novosibirsk Higher Military Command School, Military Intelligence Department, graduated in 2012.
Born in the village of Pokrovka, Loktevsky Raion, Altai Territory.
Passport: 01 09 377929,
issued by the Territorial Office of the Federal Migration Service of Russia for the Altai Territory in the Loktevsky Raion
Social media accounts: https://vk.com/id295418472 (https://archive.md/wip/aBfuU), https://vk.com/id147623816 (https://archive.md/wip/CjTVE), https://vk.com/id251606813 (https://archive.md/wip/RdS9I), https://ok.ru/profile/344230289089 (https://archive.md/wip/cO3jV) inactive
- Captain Dmitry Degot (Rus.: Деготь Дмитрий Сергеевич) – acting reconnaissance commander
Born: on March 28, 1990
Personal number E-609323
Passport: 08 10 948312,
Issued by the Department of the Federal Migration Service of Russia for the Khabarovsk Krai in the Industrial District of Khabarovsk city
Education: Novosibirsk Higher Military Command School
4.Captain Alexander Evlyushin (Rus.: Евлюшин Александр Сергеевич) – commander of the 2nd reconnaissance company
Born: May 5, 1989 in Leningrad
Passport: 56 09 874956,
issued by the Regional Department of the Federal Migration Service of Russia for the Penza Oblast in the Oktyabrsky district of Penza city
Education: Ulyanovsk Higher Military Technical School, graduated in 2012
- Captain Ivan Shutov (Rus.: Шутов Иван Сергеевич) – staff officer
Born: March 19, 1991
Progress town, Chaikhinsk city, Amur Oblast
Passport: 10 11 268701,
issued by the Department of the Federal Migration Service of Russia for the Amur Oblast in Blagoveschensk city
Previously served in the 69th Covering Brigade (military unit 61424, Bebstovo village, Jewish Autonomous Region)
- Major Igor Smolin (Rus.: Смолин Игорь Викторович) – medical service commander
Born: May 12, 1978 in the city of Barnaul
Passport: 01 03 575700,
issued by the Territorial Police Department of the Zheleznodorozhny District of Barnaul
City of residence: Khabarovsk
Contract soldiers of the reconnaissance company, reconnaissance battalion, who were in direct contact Zakharov
To be continued in our next publication…