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Published in Stream:
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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Hackers Dump Thousands of Rostov Police Documents on Internet; Evidence of Soldiers Wounded in Ukraine
7 years
US Ambassador To Ukraine -- "Greatest Single Risk Factor Facing Ukraine Today is Business As Usual

InformNapalm, a website that has published exposes of Russian troops and armor in Ukraine, has recently leaked thousands of documents it claims came from the Russian Interior Ministry's branch in Rostov, near the Ukrainian border.

In an article titled "Ukrainian Cybertroops Dump Mass of Data from Servers of Russian Interior Ministry; Compromising Materials Found!," reports that Eugene Dokunin, a Ukrainian computer programmer, is coordinating a team of volunteers to publicize and analyze the documents.

The archive has been posted on a Google Drive and contains 69 folders of 1.78 GB of files.

We have found some indication that the documents may be authentic, but more analysis is needed. The documents consist of a huge volume of reports, and minute detail on police operations using the kind of language and acronyms known to be used by Russian police, possibly indicating that these were leaked from the Rostov Interior Ministry.

To verify the materials, documents will have to be linked to other verified news reports and documents.

We found one such document in the archives, a report called "Manhunt," which describes a joint operation between the police and Federal Security Service (FSB) to look for people already on existing "wanted" lists. The report describes the capture of  Mikhail Shvindyakov, accused of robbery and larceny, whom we also discovered on the "wanted" list published on the web site of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry. The same birth date and offenses were listed, but the cities of residency differed.

More such matches are needed to assess the legitimacy of the trove. Russian journalists and NGOs who are experts on police have yet to comment (we have sent out some queries and are awaiting responses.)

Ukrainian activists are digging through the trove and say they have found some materials that confirm the participation of Russian soldiers and law-enforcers in the war in eastern Ukraine. They say they found one document dated August 25, 2014, which appears to be a police report about four Russian soldiers, serving in Millerovo, who said they were wounded by National Guard fighters 10 kilometers to the northwest of the village of Prognoy of Tarasov District. As InformNapalm  illustrates, that would put it inside Ukrainian territory:


This document is posted to Informnapalmorg's site here. We were also able to find it in the archive here, in the folder labelled "Millerovo," a Russian town near the Ukrainian border.


Another document posted here contains information about 237 wounded persons from the region of Ukraine as of September 27. They were said to include two wounded soldiers accompanied by FSB guards. UPDATE: The blogger @AricToler was able to find the document here on Google Drive. He was also able to match the information about soldiers from unit 51182 wounded on August 25 to a November 5 blog post on the web site gruz200, named after the Russian expression that means soldiers killed in combat.

Some Twitter bloggers have posted some examples of these documents, but they haven't posted links back to the archive itself, so we can't verify the claims yet.

The files contain a huge grab-bag of materials -- e.g. a robbery of a jewelry store, theft of icons of a Russian Orthodox Church, 26 persons stopped for various traffic violations -- including 8 Romas from Ukraine without identification papers.

So they will have to be sifted through to find anything that is relevant to the war in Ukraine or other important topics.

For example, one police report is dated October 25, 2014, on "Administrative Practice in the Area of Ensuring Public Safety". After scrolling through reports of arrests for "petty hooliganism" and "drinking alcohol in a public place," we noticed the arrest of 5 administrative violators for "propaganda and public demonstration of Nazi insignia or symbols or public demonstration of insignia or symbols of extremist organizations" in Rostov, Volgodonskoye, Bataisk and Belokalitvensky District.

So the "Nazism" isn't only "in Ukraine" as Russian propaganda claims, but right in Russia.

A document signed by M.B. Doda and addressed to Yu.I. Kravchenko, a police colonel who is head of the Interior Ministry branch in Rostov, contains a blank form labelled "form for reporting on citizens of Ukraine who come into treatment facilities on the territory of Police Dept. No. 2 in Rostov." That could mean wounded soldiers -- or wounded civilians, we don't know.

Another document dated "June 2014," but with the day left out, is a report on "eliminating violations of federal law" by policemen themselves. Evidently the police were "ineffective" in their work in "stopping illegal migration" in the region. What this meant is that police had failed to properly inspect and register foreign immigrants -- likely from Ukraine. Russia doesn't seem to discourage immigrants from Ukraine so far and claims to be taking care of them, but they do apparently want to document them thoroughly and weed out those suspected of crimes.

Another document dated September 11, 2014 is "Order No. 1362" from the main directorate of the Rostov Interior Ministry office, signed by Maj. Gen. A.P. Larionov and speaks of the need to combat unlawful transport of firearms, ammunition, explosives, and drugs from Ukraine across the Russian border and outlines a number of measures to better tighten up and coordinate the work. Are authorities worrying about the war in Ukraine blowing back home?

Here's a document of arrests made by traffic police of truck drivers without their papers in order or illegal freight - drugs, alcohol, meat, nuts, metal, arms, ammunition, stolen property. Where are the arms and ammunition going to? And given how often we see Russian convoys roll into Ukraine without being stopped, why are some trucks stopped by traffic police?

In other words, the documents make clear what a strain the war in Ukraine -- instigated by the Kremlin in Moscow -- has put on the regional police authorities who must now cope with hundreds of thousands of refugees pouring across the border, and thousands of Russian-backed militants from the Donbass who come into Russia for training, supply and R&R.

We'll continue to look through these folders and report on any interesting findings.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick