On July 29th, 33 Russians were detained in Minsk.
All of them were accused of being a detachment of the mythical Wagner PMC, and of being there in order to “prepare and participate in mass riots” and were in league with local oppositionists Sergei Tikhanovsky and Nikolai Statkevich.
Both Tikhanovsky and Statkevich were arrested earlier.
It also appears that most of the 33 Russians that were detained had fought in Eastern Ukraine, against the Kiev government forces.
And Kiev demands their extradition.
Russian outlet KP, citing its own sources, claimed that these 33 individuals were recruited by an individual known as Sergei Petrovich, who offered them the opportunity to protect oil facilities in Syria.
The mobile phones of the arrested individuals showed that they received phone calls from a cell phone number from Syria, but it was virtual, and it could only carry make out-going calls. Its location was impossible to determine.
Sergei Petrovich spared no time, calling the “soldier of fortune”, asking about their military past. He made it seem as if he was a high-ranking member of Wagner and was recruiting troops, asking all sorts of questions about the individuals’ activities up to that point.
One of the Eastern Ukraine veterans – Artem Milyaev was so imbued with communication with “Sergei Petrovich” that he volunteered to help him recruit a group of individuals who would “work abroad.”
He appears to be quite interested, especially since the job appears quite serious – a Rosneft executive under the name of Sergei Viktorovich Bezinsky became part of the negotiations. Such an individual doesn’t exist on the Rosneft staff roster.
Bezinsky also had mail on the domain of the oil company, if only he could understand these domains. The address (info@office-Rosneft.org), is not registered in Russia and stopped working on July 31 – two days after the Russians were arrested.
Initially, the aim was to recruit 90 people, then in May 2020 Artem Milyaev was offered to double the group to 180.
He actually did recruit that many, sending all personal data with photographs and bank card details to the “address of Rosneft” – for calculating salaries in the future. At the same time, Milyaev, for some reason, when recruiting people, used the attributes of the PMC Mar, liquidated in 2018.
However, on July 6th, things turned out for the worst – Milyaev received the sad news that “Sergei Petrovich” had died in Libya (not Syria). A few days later a new handler came – this time calling from a Venezuelan number.
Notably, the number was +5-841-291-01-091 – this is significant since it is the number of the consular section of the Russian Embassy in Caracas.
That’s just the phone of the person on duty, without the possibility of outgoing international calls – that is, the same completely virtual number as the Syrian one.
The new handler – Artur, said that the “Rosneft activities” need to be broken up, still 180 people were needed, but separated into 5 groups. Each with its own commander, so on and so forth.
Four detachments were to move to Minsk on July 24, July 26, August 4 and August 6. The fifth one was to go to Venezuela.
According to KP’s sources in Russian security services, Milyaev’s activities were estimated at $14,000 and he had the money deposited into his bank account by an unknown man with a beard.
The first group, led by Milyaev was comprised of people who had fought in Eastern Ukraine.
Departure from the capital of Belarus on the route Istanbul – Havana – Caracas was scheduled for July 25. 10 days before that, Milyaev had received copies of plane tickets for the Turkish airline’s flight with a departure from Minsk on July 25 this year.
The tickets looked like they were purchased through the website of the Must Go company, registered in Kiev.
However, with the indication on the tickets of the requisites of the travel company Coral Travel. But through the office of Turkish Airlines in Moscow, it was established that they were acquired … “in an authorized agency registered in Ukraine, which follows from the response of the Moscow representative office of the Turkish airline.”
Then, a whole string of Ukrainian companies and individuals appear to be tied up in the ticket purchasing scheme and more.
And while Milyaev’s group was getting ready to go, their tickets to Istanbul were canceled and rebooked for July 30. About which the travelers were not even informed. However, while the detachment was traveling from Moscow to Minsk, the reservation for most of its members was canceled on the 30th.
On the border with Belarus, the Russians showed their copies of contracts with the RN-Zapad company. The tickets were found at the meeting party – a citizen of Belarus Gennady Kompan was there to meet them. They were then transported with two minibuses to Minsk.
It turned out that the contracts are fake, including the seals, as well as the head of the company – Sergei Rustamov, who hasn’t lived in Minsk for years and actually lives in Samara.
The accommodation of Russians in Minsk was handled by Larisa Nikolaevna Samarina – “an employee of the Russian embassy in Istanbul”, concurrently – “a specialist of Rosneft.” Neither of these things were true.
And she booked the Belorusochka sanatorium for the group from 24 to 29 July, explaining to the manager that she was accommodating a group of passengers of the postponed flight, which they had no idea about. Moreover, because they had to wait at the border, they were late for check-in and had to stay in a hotel in Minsk.
On July 25th, Milyaev was told that their flight was delayed and that he should destroy the tickets and receive new ones for July 30th. By destroying the tickets, they got rid of valuable evidence. A thread would potentially be lost that leads to Kiev and Lviv, since most payments were made in cash, these were allegedly hard to track.
The rest is history, on July 29th, the Russians were arrested, they were accused and so on.
Immediately after the arrest, the lists of the detainees were handed over to the Ukrainian embassy in Minsk, which, in fact, explains the prompt adjustment on the site “Mirotvorets” where 12 people from the Milyaev group were added. Another 16 were already present.
Here one can only assume that the Belarusian special services were already in close contact with the Ukrainian ones, having received information from them about the arrival of “saboteurs”.
It is not without reason that Belarusian President that Alexander Lukashenko, on July 24, during his visit to a special forces brigade, mentioned “foreign PMCs” that are going to start unrest in Belarus.
As a result, it can be stated that the Ukrainian special services managed to create a fake project, in which they involved 180 Russian citizens, while including war veterans from Eastern Ukraine in the first group. At the same time, it is quite possible to admit that the entire fascinating and instructive story was brought to the Belarusian side in a very truncated form.
Through this entire operation, the SBU seems to have intended to kill several birds with one stone at once – the ubiquitous, nightmarish and terrible PMC Wagner was supposed to ricochet on Rosneft – as one of the largest Russian companies, but the main blow, undoubtedly, was to be made on the Russian-Belarusian relationship.
Not to mention the possible extradition of Russian citizens to Ukraine.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- Evidence Surfaces That Russians Detained In Belarus Were, In Fact, Traveling To Istanbul
- Lukashenko’s Gambit “Pays Off”: Restrictions On Border Between Russia And Belarus Likely Remain In Force