In May 2019, the family of the Cossack Grigory Tsurkanu received a death certificate for him, even though he had been considered only “missing” until then, Kommersant reports, citing its own sources.
In 2017, Tsurkanu, a mercenary from the Wagner private military company (PMC), was captured in Syria by Islamic State (IS) fighters. His whereabouts and status are still unknown. According to the newspaper, this situation resulted in “financial and domestic difficulties” for Tsurkanu’s relatives. For example, one of the soldier’s daughter was unable to receive the portion of Tsurkanu’s pension allotted to her, since legally he was still considered alive.
In May 2019, Tsurkanu’s relatives received a death certificate which states that he died on October 12, 2017, in the Syrian province of Deir ez-Zor. One of Tsurkanu’s friends explained to Kommersant that the process of obtaining the certificate dragged on, since his family had made efforts to find him with the help of members of the Defense Ministry and of people who identified themselves as employees of the Wagner PMC. However, no trace of the man was found.
According to the source, Tsurkanu’s family is still “hoping for a miracle”, but the death certificate was issued in order to assist with domestic problems. Among other things, the document was successfully used in a dispute in the Domodedovsky District Court to help Tsurkanu’s daughter gain access to his pension.
Another Russian was captured at the same time as Tsurkanu, Nikolai Zabolotny, described by one of his friends as a Wagner mercenary too. According to Tsurkanu’s mother, after her son was captured, a person showed up at her home who identified himself as a Wagner representative and informed her that both Tsurkanu and Zabolotny had been killed by IS militants, and also offered her financial compensation. She also said that the Russian Defense Ministry has classified the search for Tsurkanu.