Former militant leaders, including Igor Plotnitsky, used cover passports when registering for flights. Forged documents could have been made by the GRU of Russia.
Former leader of the Donetsk militants Igor “Strelkov” Girkin and the leader of the “LPR” in 2014-2017 Igor Plotnitsky used fake “cover” passports, allegedly issued by the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation – an agency formerly known as the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU ). This is stated in the investigation of the Bellingcat project and journalists from The Insider, published on Monday, July 18.
Sergei Runov – Girkin used a cover passport with that name after returning from the Donbass to the Russian Federation, the publication says. Several facts helped reporters to find out. In particular, it is known that in December the ex-leader of the “DPR” militants, together with his wife Miroslava Reginskaya, went by plane from Moscow to Rostov-on-Don.
“According to the database of domestic flights, it is clear that when Reginskaya On December 20, she flew from Moscow to Rostov-on-Don and then back two days later, she booked tickets together with Sergey Viktorovich Runov, who was born on May 12, 1970,” the investigation says.
Journalists also claim that Runov is the surname of Girkin's maternal grandfather, and the person with the full name indicated in the cover passport, according to information from numerous databases, does not exist. The publication notes that Girkin used a passport in the name of Runov during trips outside of Moscow, during which he spoke at public events dedicated to Novorossiya.
As for Plotnitsky, according to journalists, his cover passport was also discovered through the fault of his wife, Larisa Plotnitskaya. According to investigators, in November 2014, Plotnitskaya flew out of Rostov-on-Don together with a person with the full name Igor Vladimirovich Plotnikov. The date of birth in Plotnikov's passport was the same as that of Plotnitsky – June 24, 1964.
“Plotnikov's passport belonged to the same range as the passports used by well-known GRU officers. For example, a passport with a number one digit below “Plotnikov” – 4514500473 – in the name of Alekseev Nikolai Konstantinovich (04/07/1980 year of birth) was used by an employee GRU in the Netherlands during a failed cyber operation against the OPCW in 2018,” the journalists say, assuming that Plotnitsky's passport was also issued by the GRU.
As for Plotnitsky, in January of this year a Ukrainian court sentenced him to life imprisonment in the case of the crash of an Il-76 military transport aircraft near Lugansk in 2014. Then all 49 servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine who were on board died. In 2018, the Security Service of Ukraine reported that Plotnitsky left Donbass for the territory of the Russian Federation.