How the wife "burned" Igor Girkin
At the very beginning of the Russian military aggression in Ukraine, Igor Girkin (using the pseudonym Strelkov) was at the very edge of events: together with a group of armed militants, he arrived in Crimea on February 21, 2014, and, by his own admission , they drove local deputies at gunpoint to the floor to vote for a secession referendum.
After the “referendum”, he left Crimea, but already on the night of April 11-12, at the head of a group of more than fifty armed militants, freely crossed the state border of Ukraine in the Donetsk region, seized administrative buildings in Slavyansk (Donetsk region) and on behalf of the “militias Donbass" announced the creation of the "Donetsk People's Republic". Until August, he led the militants in the Donetsk region, after which, as he himself explained to The Insider, he lost the support of the Kremlin and Zakharchenko was put in his place by Surkov's decision.
During his first press conference in the Donbas, Girkin stated that until March 31, 2013 he served in the rank of FSB colonel, after which he was "expelled from the unit." He says the same about himself in one of his letters, which became public, after in May 2014 Girkin’s email array was posted by hackers of Anonymous International (available to The Insider. After returning from Donbass, Girkin often criticized the move military operation in Ukraine and personally Surkov, when he was still in charge of Ukraine).
However, as The Insider and Bellingcat managed to find out, after returning to Russia, Girkin actively used cover documents – an internal Russian passport in the name of "Sergey Runov".
On December 17, 2014, Girkin celebrated his 44th birthday by marrying 21-year-old native of Donbass Miroslava Reginskaya in Moscow. Four days later, the newlyweds appeared at a New Year's event for refugee children in Rostov-on-Don. The base of domestic flights shows that when Reginskaya flew from Moscow to Rostov-on-Don on December 20 and then back two days later, she booked tickets together with Sergey Viktorovich Runov, who was born on May 12, 1970. Runov is the surname of Girkin's maternal grandfather. Judging by numerous databases, a person with such a full name and date of birth does not actually exist.
Other trips of "Sergey Runov" can also be compared with Girkin's public appearances outside of Moscow, many of which he made to promote his Novorossiya Social Movement. "Sergey Runov" usually made joint flight reservations with Reginskaya, who herself also worked in the Novorossiya organization as her husband's personal assistant. For example, on the night of January 29-30, 2015, they booked tickets together for a flight from Moscow to Novosibirsk. The next day, Girkin held a press conference in Novosibirsk and gave an interview on local television. The return flight of Sergei Runov and Reginskaya was booked for the evening of March 1, and the next day, local media reported that Girkin had flown from Novosibirsk.
Another example: Sergey Runov and Reginskaya booked a morning flight from Moscow to Perm on March 12, 2015. Later that day, Girkin held a press conference there to introduce the new Perm branch of the Novorossiya organization. Two days later, Girkin gave the same press conference in Yekaterinburg – and at the same time, Reginskaya and Sergei Runov had a flight booked back from Yekaterinburg to Moscow for 19:50.
When exactly the passport of "Sergey Runov" was first issued remains unclear. According to the Russian database Magistral, the passport was first used for a train ticket from Moscow to St. Petersburg on November 25–26, 2014 (a video interview with Girkin on the local St. three months after Girkin's departure from the Donbass. The passport number indicates that it should have been issued back in 2002 or 2003, but since old forms are often used for cover identity, this is not indicative.
But what is known for sure is that the Russian special services at least once reissued Girkin's passport in the name of Runov. This happened some time after "Sergey Runov" turned 45 years old (the age at which Russian citizens must obtain a new internal passport).
Girkin's last known flight with a Sergei Runov passport was a flight from Moscow to Stavropol on February 14, 2016 with a return ticket in three days, although there may have been other trips that we are not aware of. Girkin told The Insider that he did not comment on the fact that he had a cover passport, and Reginskaya, after listening to The Insider's question, hung up.
A cover passport for Girkin could have been given to both the FSB and the GRU. But a search of the passport numbers adjacent to Runov at the air base turned up six more fake Russian internal passports from the same series, some of these individuals were identified by The Insider and Bellingcat as FSB officers. And these employees are amazing.
How the wife of the "killer on a bicycle" "burned"
One of the passports of the "Girkin" series was issued in the name of a certain "Anatoly Yashin", who in 2016 flew to Minsk on the same reservation with a fellow traveler who also had a fake passport – Alexei Kornilov. The real identity of "Kornilov" has not yet been established, but his series of passports is also interesting – it includes, for example, a passport in the name of "Ekaterina Zotova". The Insider and Bellingcat have previously established that a passport in the name of “Ekaterina Zotova” was issued to the wife of FSB hitman Vadim Krasikov after he was caught in Germany. Recall that The Insider and Bellingcat previously established that Vadim Krasikov, also known as the "killer on a bicycle", served in the Vympel special forces unit of the FSB. Before he killed the Chechen refugee Zelimkhan Khangoshvili in Berlin, he, along with colleagues from Vympel, managed to take part in several murders of entrepreneurs in Russia. After his arrest in Berlin, the FSB gave his wife a false passport and took her to the Crimea.
Another passport was issued in the name of “Artem Vinogradov”, who in March 2015 flew on the same armor with “Mikhail Stepanov” – this is the name of the cover for one of the members of the poisoning squad of the FSB squad, Mikhail Shvets, who participated in the poisoning of Alexei Navalny by the “novichok”. In May-October 2014, the same "Artem Vinogradov" flew together with the "Bulat Rinatovich Akhmetov" (03/06/1987 year of birth) – apparently, this is the name of the cover name of the FSB officer Bulat Rinatovich Akhmatyanov (03/26/1987 year of birth), who later died in Syria, blown up by a land mine.
The reissued passport of "Sergey Runov" also has an interesting series. One of the passports in this range was issued in the name of "Mikhail Petrov", who booked a flight from Moscow to Rostov on January 14, 2016, along with "Evgeny Chichagin", whose passport number, in turn, is close to Shvets' fake passport. Both of them flew with "Ivan Artemov", whose document number differs by only one digit from the number of "Aleksey Frolov" – this is the name of the cover of one of the key poisoners of Navalny, Alexei Alexandrov.
How the wife "burned" Igor Plotnitsky
One of the key leaders of the “separatists” in the early years of the conflict in Donbass was Ukrainian citizen Igor Venediktovich Plotnitsky (born June 24, 1964), who for more than three years, until the end of 2017, served as head of the so-called LPR. In this capacity, he was one of the signatories of the 2014–2015 Minsk agreements.
The former Soviet Army officer with the rank of major and former civil servant Plotnitsky first came to the fore as the first commander of the “Zarya battalion”, which appeared in April-May 2014 in his native Luhansk (the battalion ceased to exist by the end of 2014, when it units were included in the official "People's Militia of the LPR"). He was appointed Minister of Defense of the “LPR” on May 21, 2014 and “elected” as the head of the “LPR” in the “general elections” in the republic on November 2, 2014, which were supported by Russia but condemned by Ukraine and the West as illegitimate.
The “LPR” under Plotnitsky was characterized by authoritarian rule, widespread corruption and complete dependence on neighboring Russia. Plotnitsky's stated position was that the "LNR" would eventually join Russia through a referendum similar to the one held in Crimea in 2014.
The cover passport was also found in Plotnitsky, and due to the same mistake as Girkin: he flew on it with his wife Larisa Plotnitskaya (who reportedly died in 2020).
According to the flight database, it can be seen that on November 7, 2014, Plotnitskaya flew from Rostov-on-Don to Moscow together with Russian citizen Igor Vladimirovich Plotnikov, whose date of birth is indicated on June 24, 1964 – the same as that of Plotnitsky. The exact reason for this trip is unknown, but it is noteworthy that Plotnitsky received the position of head of the "LPR" just three days before. In addition, flight data indicates that his then-colleague Alexander Zakharchenko, who was sworn in as head of the "DNR" on the same day as Plotnitsky, also flew from Rostov-on-Don to Moscow shortly after the inauguration. which also suggests that these trips were most likely business trips.
The earliest example of Plotnitsky using a passport in the name “Igor Plotnikov” was for a flight from Rostov-on-Don to Moscow on September 4, 2014, that is, the day before he appeared in Minsk with Zakharchenko to sign the Minsk Protocol. He also used this cover passport to fly the same route on September 18, and the next day Plotnitsky and Zakharchenko arrived in Minsk for the second time to sign a memorandum in addition to the Minsk Protocol.
In a conversation with The Insider, Plotnitsky said that he did not remember exactly where he flew in 2014, but he was sure that he always flew only with a passport in his name.
The "Plotnikov" passport belonged to the same range as the passports used by prominent GRU officers. For example, a passport with a number one digit below "Plotnikov" – 4514500473 – addressed to Nikolai Konstantinovich Alekseev (born 04/07/1980) was used by a GRU officer in the Netherlands during a failed cyber operation against the OPCW in 2018.
Thus, Plotnitsky's passport was most likely also issued by the GRU.
Plotnitsky resigned as head of the "LPR" in late 2017 and fled to Moscow during a power struggle that broke out in the separatist republic.