Bellingcat reported mass awarding of medals Russians

A scattering of medals

International expert and journalist group Bellingcat published on 31 August a report on “Russian soldiers in Ukraine: the devil is in the medals.” The authors of the investigation studied photography awarded by the Russian military in social networks and by their indexes determined the amount awarded in 2014-2015.

The authors of the report found in social networks pictures of 19 medals “For military merits”. For the most part obtained photographs show the date and a sequence number issued medals that allow you to set the total number of issued medals. “If someone got in the beginning of the month medal with number 1000, and at the end of the month someone else received the award number 2000, then this means that a month was granted 1,000 awards,” explained one of the authors of report Eric Toler.

The researchers were able to determine that from November 2014 to February 2016, the medal “For military merits” received 4338 soldiers. As the authors of the report, referring to “Military historical journal” (the official publication of Russian defense Ministry) from 2003 to 2008 the following awards were won by 253 military. In the period from 2008 to November 2014, including during the Georgian-Ossetian conflict in August 2008, the military Department were, on average, won an award “For military merits” in 15 times less than during the period studied.

Medal “For military merits” awarded for participation in hostilities, says Toler. Given the timing of the awards, many awards were received for participation in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, summarizes the researcher.

The maximum number of medals (60 a day) was awarded in December 2014, during the fierce fighting for the Donetsk airport. In addition, the authors of the report, the surge in the number of awards also came to the events in debaltseve, February 2015.

The same dynamics, the researchers tracked and the amount awarded state awards For courage”, medals of Suvorov and Zhukov. According to Bellingcat, from September 2008 to August 2014, the medal “For courage” was awarded to four times less than in 2014-2015. Medals of Suvorov and Zhukov was also awarded less than before the events in the East of Ukraine. However, researchers clarify that state awards received not only military but civilians.

Unknown medals

The report presents information on four Russian medals. Three of them — the medal “For courage”, medal of Suvorov and medal of Zhukov is state awards. One — medal “For military merits” — is a premium mark from the Ministry of defense of Russia. According to the Statute awards the medal For military distinction” is awarded only for combat: shown in combat bravery or actions during combat operations. This medal is awarded to military personnel only once. The order about rewarding is signed by the Minister of defence of Russia. The Agency did not announce the awarding of the servicemen given medals. The last time military awards for events associated with Ukraine, defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was awarded in August 2014. Mostly it was the medal “For returning Crimea”.

Award “For courage”, medal of Zhukov and the medal of Suvorov is awarded by the decree of the President of Russia, as evidenced by the decrees on the establishment of these awards on the website of the President. However, on the official website of the President there is no information about the medals, awarded to servicemen in the period from 2014 to 2015. In 2013, the medal “For courage” was awarded to journalist Yevgeny Poddubny and Alexander Pushin. In 2015, according to the decree on the presidential website, the same award was marked by the attache of the Russian Embassy in Nepal Azret Botashev.

“Serial number on the coin tells about the procedure of awarding the soldier,” — said the member of the public Council under the Ministry of defense of Russia Anton Tsvetkov. According to the specialist awards Sergei Bychkov, the numbers of medals and date of delivery can determine the amount and number of awards. He said that in conditions of active hostilities premium order can lose. “The medals are assigned, put in files on a shelf. And then they can spontaneously deliver, for example at the check-out command. Because of this, date and number may not match”, — the expert explains. Bychkov said that the precise order is available to the premium Department of the Ministry of defence.

Medals received for participation in combat actions not always present “open” emphasizes the lead researcher of the State historical Museum Sergey Levin. “Medal “For military merits” is a departmental award that only the Ministry can know whom she awarded” — sums up the expert on awards.

Military expert Viktor murakhovski noted that not always war decorations awarded for valor in combat. In addition, the expert said, in late 2014 — early 2015, the Russian army did not participate in any events for which such awards could be awarded. “Between the event and awarding ceremony is often held for some time, so I wouldn’t associate with the events that took place in parallel,” Murakhovsky says.

The Russian defense Ministry and the Russian authorities deny the presence of Russian armed forces in the East of Ukraine and their participation in combat operations in 2014-2015. Ministry of defense explained most of the facts of its military presence in Ukraine is the fact that it is the volunteers who went to war during vacation. In the DNI and LC follow the same line. “I would rather spend the holiday on the seashore, and among us,” — said Zakharchenko on August 28 in an interview with Russian channels.

made a formal request to the Ministry of defence.

Bellingcat — an international expert and journalist group founded on 15 July 2014, the British journalist Eliot Higgins. Its goal is to unite citizen journalists to investigate current events. In their reports, the Bellingcat based on open sources: videos and photos posted in social networks, satellite imagery. The group exists on private donations collected through the crowdfunding service Kickstarter. The team consists of more than 20 people and many volunteers who help free of charge. Now the main project Bellingcat — investigation of the circumstances of the crash Malaysian Boeing. The command also oversees a military campaign in Syria, including the actions of Russian soldiers.

The accuracy of the information Bellingcat questioning the foreign media. In June, the German magazine Spiegel interviewed an expert on the analysis of forensic photography Jens Krause. The occasion was the investigation Bellingcat, which, according to the group, it has been proven the manipulation of the Russian Ministry of defense photos of the downed plane MH17. Krause said that the method applied Bellingcat, from the point of view of the examination does not stand up to scrutiny. “At its core, it relies on the so-called ELA-analysis. This method is unscientific and subjective. Accordingly, there is no scientific articles devoted to this method”, — he said (quoted by “the new York times.<url>”). Chief editor of Spiegel Online Florian harms in June, has apologized to readers for the fact that the editors on the basis of information from Bellingcat gave an affirmative headers that Russia manipulated images. According to Kharms, to study Bellingcat should be given in the subjunctive mood, as the approval of the researchers were not properly checked by the editorial Board.