The title of the main informer of Russia without a doubt goes to the 48-year-old Petersburger Timur Bulatov. “Happy husband, father of two children, patriot of Russia, jeweler, blacksmith & thunderstorm of LGBT crime in the Russian Federation” or “warrior of the information war” – this is how Bulatov himself described himself. Indeed, “LGBT crime” is his main area of interest.
It was with Bulatov's denunciation that the case of the artist Yulia Tsvetkova began. "Geeborets" (so, again, Bulatov calls himself) found "crime" on her page in "VKontakte" "Vagina Monologues", where the artist published her drawings. For the most part, they were about body-positive representation of women, not LGBT people. According to Bulatov, he began to follow the activities of Tsvetkova around the middle of 2019. In November of the same year, after his appeal to the police of Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Tsvetkova was prosecuted under the article “Illegal production and circulation of pornographic materials using the Internet” (clause “b” part 3 of article 242 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation ) - Bulatov did not like the images that said that all women are beautiful and they should not be embarrassed by the features of their bodies. From that time until March 2020, the artist was under house arrest. After that, the preventive measure was changed to a written undertaking not to leave, and in November 2022, Tsvetkova was fully acquitted, and she was able to leave Russia.
Although Bulatov's denunciations do not bring much results in terms of criminal prosecution, most of the victims of his harassment have to go through the circles of hell differently as a result. Most often, they are representatives of the LGBT community who work as teachers. Bulatov regularly boasts of their number to the media: in 2014, he said that at least 29 teachers were fired based on his denunciations, and in 2017 already 60. The last time he reported on his results was in February 2023: “Here is the Romanov who escaped from Russia, was the 100th teacher. Bulatov is referring to Boris Romanov, the organizer of the Living Library in St. Petersburg. The description of the project makes it clear what did not suit the informer:
"'Books' represent diverse groups in our society that are often stigmatized and suffer from stereotyping, discrimination or social exclusion, or members of certain segments of the population or professional groups that can arouse the interest of the 'reader'."
Bulatov managed to close the "Library", but failed to fire Romanov from the school. Then he decided to write a complaint about the current article - for "fakes" about the Russian army. Here is what Bulatov himself says about this: “But I still found the reason for imprisoning him. He published fake information, rejoiced at the sanctions, wrote bad things about Russia. He served less than a year. They let him go. Romanov fled Russia. It is difficult to say whether Bulatov really wrote a hundred denunciations, but the story of Romanov is absolutely real. On May 11, he was taken into custody, and on July 28 he was released from the pre-trial detention center under the ban on certain actions. In August, he was able to leave Russia and is now in Germany.
Bulatov's biography deserves special attention. In 2004, he worked as a manager in a construction company, where he embezzled 149 thousand rubles. Bulatov accepted payment from customers, but did not bring it to the cashier. As a result, the director of the company filed a lawsuit against Bulatov, and in 2005 he was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison. But in absentia: Bulatov did not appear at his trial. The "Geeborets" was put on the wanted list, but this did not prevent him from living quietly and denunciating for the next nine years. In December 2014, he was nevertheless detained: it turned out that since the same 2005, Bulatov was also wanted on suspicion of fraud. As Fontanka wrote , citing investigators, several women accused him of stealing. So, Bulatov borrowed a large sum from one of them, stole all the gold and disappeared. He was sent to the Kresty pre-trial detention center, and then to IK-5 (Metallostroy). By his own admission, he was on good terms with the jailers: “If something tasty was sent in the program, I could share it with the warden, and he opened the door for us and allowed us to use the shower.” Bulatov claims that he spent seven months in prison and was released under an amnesty.
One of the most productive scammers in Russia can also be called a resident of Moscow, Danila Mikheev. To some extent, he is even more successful than Bulatov: Mikheev is only 23 years old, and for the last four years he has been actively engaged in denunciation. One of Mikheev's first known complaints was written in the fall of 2019. As a student at the Russian State Social University (RSSU), he complained about third-year student Vladimir Utenkov, who posted on his VKontakte page a video titled “The Last Days of the Third Reich, the Defense of Berlin (German Documentary 1945)”. An administrative case was opened against the student for “propaganda or public demonstration of Nazi paraphernalia or symbols” (Article 20.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses). As a result, propaganda was not found in the video, but it can be said that Mikheev's "career" began with such denunciations at the RSSU.
DOXA wrote in detail about the complaints system at the university and how its students cooperate with the security service. Here is what Mikheev himself told the publication about his activities: “I contributed to the capture of real terrorists, extremists and those who have not yet grown to their category. In many ways, this is also help to them, no matter how they relate to it. We need to pull the person out in time."
From students, Mikheev switched to journalists and activists, in fact becoming a freelance FSB officer. His profile is "independent" expertise. To conduct them, he registered the company ANO "Center for the Promotion of Humanitarian Expertise "Independent Expert"" with a legal address in Solnechnogorsk, Moscow Region. Mikheev's expertise covers many areas: linguistics, psychology, and even religion. For their implementation, a specialized education is necessary, but not for Mikheev. So, in order to confirm his expertise on the connection of the Crimean Tatar Mustafa Seydaliyev with Hizb ut-Tahrir, he attached to it a certificate of completion of the “Fundamentals of Islam for Beginners” courses. His "expert opinions" regularly become arguments for the prosecution in court.
As of October 2022, he managed to be an expert and informer in 29 cases. It was on his tip that Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina and the municipal deputy of the Basmanny district of Moscow, Lyusya Stein, were pursued. And if they were able to leave Russia and remain at large, then the other two victims of Mikheev were much less fortunate. In the summer of 2022, blogger Sergei Komandirov, whose publication was complained about by an “expert,” received six years in prison for “justifying terrorism” (Part 2, Article 205.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). Mikheev’s biggest “victory” was the sentence of politician Vladimir Kara-Murza in April 2023 to 25 years in prison. For this denunciation, he was included in the sanctions list of the US Treasury.
The 39-year-old head of the Federal Security and Anti-Corruption Project, Vitaly Borodin, specializes in entire newsrooms and celebrities. He was once an unremarkable businessman. He got into business in 2009 - allegedly as the director of economic security at the Stroyinvest company, which is associated with former State Duma deputy Igor Kasyanov. Before that, Borodin, according to his own statement, worked in the "power bloc": an operative of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the State Drug Control Service, and even a military man. “You can write down: I am a participant in a military operation in Syria. I flew a year ago. I was on a business trip in Luhansk, and in Donetsk I was on the front lines and ran with a machine gun in my hands,” Borodin said in an interview with Meduza.
It was released on July 20, 2021. Five days earlier, Russian authorities had declared Proekt an "undesirable organization" and five of its journalists "foreign agents." This was done at the denunciation of Borodin. The future serial informer, known in his native Lipetsk by the nickname Vitalya Kvadrat, did not like the investigation of the "Project" about the head of Russian intelligence Vitaly Naryshkin and his friendship with billionaire Goda Nisanov. “This is how you can conduct investigations about the head of the SVR? How do you take photos and videos of a special subject and post some of his meetings on the Internet? This should be done by the special services, and not by people who have nothing to do with this - and even receive money from the West, ” Borodin was indignant. He wrote his complaint about the "Project" on the basis of an RT report on foreign funding for the editorial office. The Prosecutor General's Office claims that the denunciation came to them on July 15. Thus, the decision on the “undesirability” of the “Project” was made in one day.
After the start of a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, Borodin began to write complaints about musicians, actors and businessmen who spoke out against Russia's actions. Among them are Valery Meladze, Diana Arbenina, Semyon Slepakov and others. Borodin asks some to be checked for “discrediting” the Russian army, others to be recognized as a “foreign agent” (for example, the Latvian Laima Vaikule). The scammer asks some of them to find foreign funding - this was the case with Valery Meladze and Alla Pugacheva. In December 2022, he stated that he had evidence that the latter was collaborating with Western intelligence services: “Yes, I told the whole country, the whole world that Alla Pugacheva was collaborating with Western intelligence services. I hope you all understand that this was said for a reason. We are just waiting for official documents to prove to the public and show Pugacheva’s connection with the West.” At the time of this writing, Borodin has not provided official documents.
But Borodin's denunciation of the actor Danila Kozlovsky stands out from the rest. He asked the prosecutor's office to check the actor for "discrediting" the army and said that after the start of the war, he left for the United States. After that, the performances of "Hamlet" and "Cunning and Love" with the participation of Kozlovsky were postponed at the Maly Drama Theater in St. Petersburg. The actor filed a lawsuit against Borodin, but the court did not accept it, citing the fact that the decision was made on formal grounds. However, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov himself reacted to the situation - and not in favor of Borodin. Answering a question about his attitude to denunciations, and in particular to the denunciation of Kozlovsky, Peskov said the following: “As for denunciations, it has always been disgusting, it is, and I hope it will be so.”
The head of the near-government Safe Internet League does much the same thing as her mother. Both are constantly trying to ban something or someone and actively write complaints about objectionable people. Senator Elena Mizulina is concerned about family and marriage issues, as well as restricting the rights of women and the LGBT community, and her daughter, in turn, is trying to protect the Internet and ban rappers.
In May 2021, Mizulina Jr. reported on the cancellation of the Morgenstern concert in St. Petersburg. According to her, this was done after the appeal of parent organizations. They were allegedly worried about "the possible continuation of drug propaganda among children by this performer." "Continuation", since earlier, in mid-April, an administrative case had already been opened against Morgenstern for promoting drugs. She was found in the musician's videos "Rose Wine - 2" and Family. Then a denunciation of the rapper was written by a former LDPR parliamentarian Dmitry Nosov. Two weeks after the cancellation of the concert, the Safe Internet League reported on the rapper herself - and again under the same article. This time Mizulina's team sent a complaint to the Ministry of Internal Affairs because of three tracks from his new album Million Dollar: Happiness. It was released on May 21, and the complaint became known on the 26th - it is easy to calculate how quickly Mizulina reacted to the release.
On tips from Mizulina, rappers OG Buda and Eldzhey and blogger Yuri Dudya were also prosecuted for drug propaganda. After the outbreak of a full-scale war, the latter became the victim of an odious social activist once again. On February 25, 2022, Mizulina sent statements to the Prosecutor General's Office and the Ministry of Justice with a request to check Dudya for foreign funding. Before that, the blogger published an anti-war post. In her complaint, Mizulina referred to the publications of "a number of media outlets", allegedly dedicated to the fact that Dudya was sponsored from abroad. She omitted the media names.
In the early days of the war, Mizulina regularly reported on the number of “fakes” found on the Internet dedicated to the war against Ukraine. On February 27, she reported that the Safe Internet League had identified about 1.2 million fakes since February 18. The next day, the number of disinformation units found had already increased by 100,000. Four days later, Mizulina began her confrontation with Meta. On March 11, she called on Russians to delete their Facebook and Instagram accounts, and also suggested blocking YouTube. According to Mizulina, hosting creates "a favorable environment for the spread of fakes about Russia, extremist statements and calls for the use of violence."
After six months of fighting social networks, Mizulina returned to denunciations of celebrities, and in October she demanded that the Prosecutor General's Office recognize Oksimiron's track "Oida" as extremist. In her opinion, it “contains calls to separate St. Petersburg from Russia”: “What an interesting story comes out. At the beginning of the year, a foreign agent spoke out against the SVO, fled Russia, and now he has returned with a new task from Western curators - to hit on the international agenda? Did you get an order?" A couple of weeks later, Mizulina wrote another denunciation - on the Moldovan blogger Nekoglai, who made a parody of the Russian military. As a result, he was first mocked at the police station, and after a court decision, he was expelled from Russia. And then he came to Kyiv and donated five drones and a car of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, aka "Putin's Chef", needs no introduction. Now it seems absurd, but before the start of a full-scale invasion, he denied any involvement in the Wagner PMC. And on those who claimed the opposite, he wrote denunciations. For example, in June 2021, the recidivist criminal Prigozhin sued Alexei Venediktov, then editor-in-chief of Ekho Moskvy. He was not satisfied that he called him "the owner of the Wagner PMC."
A month later, he again went to court - and again with a claim against Echo. This time, Prigogine filed a lawsuit for the protection of honor, dignity and business reputation, as well as compensation for moral damages against Viktor Shenderovich, Alexei Venediktov, Vitaly Ruvinsky and ZAO Ekho Moskvy. The reason for the new trials was the broadcast of the program "Special Opinion" on March 18, 2021, where Shenderovich stated that "Prigozhin is a criminal", and also that "Kadyrov, Prigozhin, Wagnerites are all murderers." In December 2021, the court recovered in favor of Prigozhin 1 million rubles from Ekho Moskvy and 100 thousand rubles from Shenderovich. Due to persecution, Shenderovich left Russia in January 2022.
Prigozhin also sued The Insider - in June 2021, he filed a lawsuit against the publication, as well as its editor-in-chief Roman Dobrokhotov and journalist Denis Bilunov. “Putin’s Chef” was outraged by the investigation “Mazai is an African Wagner. Who manages the affairs of Prigozhin on the Black Continent. It tells about Prigozhin's conviction for involving minors in prostitution, that he owns a "troll factory" and, once again, about his involvement in the Wagner PMC. In December of the same year, he filed another lawsuit against journalist Eliot Higgins, the founder of Bellingcat. And not just anywhere, but to the High Court of England. The reason is the same - the allegations that Prigozhin "is responsible for the non-existent operations of the fictitious Wagner group in Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere."
It would seem that with the start of a full-scale invasion, Prigozhin had a lot of trouble, and there should be no time left for denunciations. But no: the recidivist criminal managed to complain about at least three people and two organizations. The first was the writer Alexander Nevzorov. In April 2022, Prigozhin asked to open a criminal case against him for “fakes” about the Russian army – allegedly he “acts as the press secretary of the Azov regiment, justifying Nazism and the crimes they committed.” It is noteworthy that shortly before this, a criminal case had already been opened against Nevzorov for “discrediting”. Prigozhin also wrote a denunciation of Fontanka journalist Ksenia Klochkova, editor-in-chief of the publication’s website Alexander Gorshkov, ex-journalist of Znak.com Igor Pushkarev, Meduza and Gulagu.net.
When Prigozhin’s involvement in the Wagner PMC became obvious, Prigozhin abandoned his claims against The Insider and Venediktov: “There was a time when I had to go and sue Venediktov and others, because there was a conspiratorial need to say that the Wagner PMC does not exist. ... Today ... I am pleased to present victory in this court to Comrade Venediktov. And if there is a desire, then to all those from whom I won them. Despite Prigozhin's "permission", Judge Artem Kuzmichev of the Presnensky Court of Moscow refused to review his claim. Thus, the court refused to recognize that Prigozhin founded the Wagner PMC.
A separate category of scammers are Russian deputies. Separate, because unlike all those already mentioned, they receive money for denunciation. MPs are paid for being quoted in the media, and denunciation is a very easy way to get into the news. До начала полномасштабного вторжения парламентарии, как и большинство «профессиональных» доносчиков, жаловались на представителей ЛГБТ-сообщества и журналистов. После — на тех, кто распространяет «фейки» о российской армии и просто сомневается в успехах России. Список доносчиков-депутатов довольно большой, но вот некоторые имена:
- Дмитрий Локтев (исключен из КПРФ): написал донос на муниципальных депутатов московского района Куркино за их антивоенное заявлении, а также префекту Северо-Западного округа Москвы Алексею Пашкову и «Жилищнику» района Куркино. По мнению Локтева, они были причастны к поломке картонной фигуры бабушки с красным флагом.
- Виктор Максимов (КПРФ): на заседании КПРФ в апреле 2022 года публично донес на партию «Яблоко» и ее участников, в том числе блогера Максима Каца. Через несколько дней написал персональный донос на «яблочника» Сергея Митрохина, попросив проверить его на «дискредитацию» армии.
- Мария Бутина («Единая Россия»): донесла на книги украинского блогера Дмитрия Гордона и на учебники по английскому языку Starlight. В последних упоминалась правозащитная организация Amnesty International, но после доноса Бутиной это исправили.
- Нина Останина (КПРФ): присоединилась к доносу своего однопартийца Максимова на члена «Яблока» Митрохина. Через год вместе с другими «коммунистами» написала донос на нового директора Третьяковской галереи Елизавету Лихачёву. Депутатам не понравилось интервью, в котором та сравнила Сталина с Микки-Маусом.
- Султан Хамзаев (ЕР): писал доносы на бизнесмена Олега Тинькова, актера Артура Смольянинова и музыканта Бориса Гребенщикова. Все трое неоднократно высказывались с резкой критикой российской агрессии в Украине.
- Сергей Боярский (ЕР): сын Михаила Боярского выделяется в этом списке. Неизвестно, писал ли он доносы самостоятельно, но точно активно склонял к этому других. В апреле 2022 года Боярский представил бот для доносов, разработанный «Единой Россией».
- Александр Хинштейн (ЕР): единорос и эсер Захар Прилепин, на которого 6 мая было совершено покушение, писали донос на художника Олега Кулика из-за его скульптуры «Большая мать». Доносчики увидели в ней «реабилитацию нацизма». По его же доносу муниципального депутата Красносельского района Москвы Алексея Горинова приговорили к семи годам колонии по статье о «фейках».