Novaya itself tentatively identified one of the mercenaries as Stanislav D., a former police officer from Stavropol Krai, who filmed the incident. After the publication of the article, the man’s wife closed her account on the Russian social network VKontakte and changed her surname to her maiden name.
The second participant in the reprisal was identified by Novoye Vremya as Vladislav A., who reportedly died near Deir ez-Zor at the start of 2018.
The third mercenary from the Wagner private military company was identified yesterday by the St. Petersburg-based news outlet Fontanka.ru. Based on a group photograph taken on the day of the killing, acquaintances identified him as Ruslan, a 39 year-old soldier from Bryansk.
According to Fontanka, Ruslan was previously involved in combat in Chechnya. People who know him claim that he traveled to Syria in 2017.
The man is currently involved in the patriotic education of youth. Fontanka found photographs on social networks of Ruslan in a Cossack uniform at a children’s event. He now describes himself as a volunteer at the Garain Governor’s Palace of Child and Youth Creativity, where he claims to be involved in school competitions.
Fontanka was able to talk to Ruslan on the phone. He claimed that he has never traveled to Syria or had any link to the Wagner PMC. In correspondence with a Fontanka correspondent, he promised to provide the last three digits of his passport in order to refute the allegations, but did not keep his word, and stopped responding.
Recently Novaya Gazeta published a video of the brutal beating and execution of a Syrian who had deserted from the government army. The Kremlin described the video as “shocking” and said that the Russian government has no connection to “these people”.