According to Russian propaganda, General Andrey Serdyukov headed the invaders’ contingent of the ‘Collective Security Treaty Organization’ (CSTO) in Kazakhstan. Russian airborne troops, special operations forces and a military intelligence unit are the core of this invaders’ grouping. Serdyukov is a career Russian military man, whose childhood was spent in Ambrosievka, Ukraine’s Donetsk Region, in a family of special boarding school educators. During the Soviet period, officer Serdyukov built his career in the Soviet 104th Guards Airborne Division, stationed in the Azerbaijan’s Kirovabad (now Ganja), where, as a battalion commander, he was repeatedly involved in the brutal suppression of the local population’s protest actions in 1988-1990.
After the USSR collapsed, Serdyukov served in the Russia’s 76th Airborne Division and he actively participated in both Russian Army’s Chechen military campaigns. There, among other things, he developed close business and commercial ties with Valery Gerasimov, the then commander of the Russia’s 58th Combined Arms Army. The actions of the 76th Airborne Division in Chechnya are qualified by human rights defenders as crimes against humanity; its victims among the civilian population and their relatives have subsequently repeatedly won cases against Russia in the European Court of Human Rights. Serdyukov’s gradual career growth, from regiment commander to army commander, and it accelerated in early 2013, which was directly related to the change in the highest commanders of the Russian Armed Forces and with the preparation of the Russian leadership’s plans of aggression against Ukraine.
Let us recall that in November 2012 Sergey Shoygu became the Russia’s Minister of Defense, and Gerasimov, as Serdyukov’s accomplice in the “Chechen business”, was appointed as a Chief of the Russian Army’s General Staff, instead of Nikolay Makarov. It was within the framework of the removal of Makarov’s trusted high officers from key command posts that Andrey Serdyukov was appointed as a deputy commander, and then, since October 2013, a first deputy commander of the Russia’s Southern Military District.
At the same time, in order to “clean up” this position in favor of Serdyukov, a number of criminal cases were “suddenly” initiated against the previous District’s first deputy commander, Nikolay Pereslegin, who had family relations with the aforementioned Army General Nikolay Makarov, those Pereslegin’s criminal issues were actively covered by Russian propaganda. It is indicative that, despite all efforts, the Russian security forces could not find anything special about General Pereslegin.
Ultimately, Pereslegin was “prosecuted” for using for personal needs two conscripts “donated” to him, as a builder, security guard and bathhouse attendant, which happened back in 2005.
It should be noted that Colonel Andrey Gurulev was then an “accomplice” of Colonel Pereslegin, who sent by his order his own “serfs” subordinates to provide services to Pereslegin, and who “painted” her fictitious “carrying” for them all a year and a half of their service. Obviously, it is solely thanks to Gurulev’s “frank testimony”, received by the Rissuan military investigators in 2013 “very timely”, such Colonel Pereslegin’s “egregious atrocities” were exposed. Let us note that since 2012 Mr. Gurulev became the successor of the aforementioned Valery Gerasimov as the “Chechen” 58th Army’s commander and, like Serdyukov, he had close business and other relations with the future Chief of the Russian General Staff.
Therefore, it is not surprising that in the aforementioned “bathhouse” scandal of 2013, Mr. Gurulev, who “handed over” Mr. Pereslegin in favor of Mr. Serdyukov, despite his once friendly relations with the “outcasted” Army General Makarov, got off with “slight fright”. Mr. Gurulev did not really lose anything from the aforementioned criminal case and scandal and till 2016 he rose to the position of deputy commander of the same Russia’s Southern Military District. However, since 2019, Gurulev was nevertheless dismissed and then he held high, but rather nominal civilian positions, and in 2021 he received the “honorary title” of a State Duma deputy from Putin’s “United Russia” party.
It was in 2013 that General Serdyukov, as a Chief of Head Staff of the Russia’s Southern Military District, became a key participant in the planning and preparation the measures of aggression against Ukraine. As the Russian propaganda writes, “during the hostilities in Chechnya and in the Crimean Spring of 2014, he proved himself to be an excellent master of operational command and control of troops in a difficult military-political situation”. Ukrainian journalists confirm that Andrey Serdyukov in 2014, with the rank of colonel-general, was the chief of staff of the Russian troops’s group that was carrying out the seizure of the Ukrainian Crimea.
In 2018, the Main Military Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine sent an indictment to the court on the Serdyukov’s acts within the framework of the occupation of Crimea. At the same time, during the investigation it was established that it was Serdyukov who was the coordinator in the process of transferring military personnel and civilians from the captured Crimea to the Ukrainian authorities. Also, the Ukrainian investigation and the court established facts, supported by witnesses and evidence, that the involvement of General Serdyukov in the command of paramilitary structures deployed to the Crimea, such as “Cossacks”, “Afghan veterans” and “self-defence”, that proved his responsibility for coordinating their actions.
Having received this experience in planning operations and commanding paramilitary structures in 2013-2014, General Serdyukov actively participated in organizing the occupation of the territories of Eastern Ukraine. It is reported that he, from December 2015 to October 2016, was the commander of the 12th Reserve Command of the Southern Military District, coming to the post after Colonel Bakhtiyar Kara Ogly Nabiyev, his former deputy head of the Southern District Head Staff, who was appointed to the same position for 12th Command in July 2014.
It is the 12th Reserve Command, as military unit 89462, that the Ukraine’s authorities, civil society and special services call as the organizational “pad” for the two “army corps”, which united the so-called “people’s militia units” in the occupied territories of Eastern Ukraine. The formal task of the 12th Reserve Command was for “mobilization preparation and interaction with territorial defense units,” while this military unit “inherited” it in the Russian registers of court decisions (for example, in case 2A-21/2016).
At the beginning of 2015, Russian propaganda, commenting on the already scandalous 12th Reserve Command, stated that “the mere use of the word «commander» in relation to the position of the head of the reserve command of the military district suggests that we are talking about unification. That is, if necessary, at least a combined-arms army can be formed on the basis of each reserve command”. Thus, the formal “demotion” of General Serdyukov to the position in which his subordinate General Nabiev was previously held, in fact, became his promotion. It is noteworthy that according to the some sources’ statements, it was the allegedly mentioned hero of the “bathhouse scandal”, the Commander of the Russian 58th Army, General Andrey Gurulev, who led the Ukraine-located “army corps” in 2014 through the 12th Command.
But in this case, it turns out that General Gurulev commanded those “corps” “over the head” of General Serdyukov, who controlled both the Southern District Head of Staff and the 12th Reserve Command at that time. And it was not for this that Colonel Gurulev “sincerely repented” to the military investigators about supplying “bath attendants” to Colonel Pereslegin, in order to command by Mr. Serdyukov, in whose favor he was forced to shamefully “renounce” the influential Russian military Makarov’s clan of in favor of the Gerasimov’s group, defending his own “selfish” interests. Most likely, General Gurulev participated at 2014-2016 in the leadership of the Russia’s occupation contingent in Ukraine, following the illegal instructions of General Serdyukov, his direct chief of the Southern District Head of Stuff.
However, then the 12th Reserve Command located in Novocherkassk was renamed into the Center of Territorial Forces (military unit 64722), and later into the military unit 33744. This happened already in 2017, with the formation, again in Novocherkassk, of the Russia’s 8th Shock Army of the Southern Military District, thanks to which the command of the “hybrid” “army corps” migrated directly to the Russian 8th Army’s headquarters.
It is noteworthy that there was a Senior officer of the Personnel relations department Major Nikolay Titarchuk among the employees of military unit 64722, awarded in February 2016 with the Rostov Governor’s badge “For Military Service”. This “personnel relations’ officer” subsequently continued his service in unit 33744, and earlier, before the occupation of Ukrainian Crimea and Donbass, he participated, with the rank of major, in the “counter-terrorist operation on the territory of the Republic of Dagestan” as officer of military unit 25908, namely – the Russia’s 1327 Center for the use of reconnaissance subdivisions and subdivisions of special purpose. This military unit 33744 is now headed by the Deputy commander of the Russia’s 8th Army for military-political work, General Andrey Zembatov, an active participant in the Russia’s invasion to the Crimea, and also – a defendant in the case of 2-17/2017 in the Kaliningrad Garrison Court on his misappropriated payments.
At the same time, since 2015, the Ukrainian authorities and special services have noted that Andrey Serdyukov commanded a group of Russian occupation forces in the Ukrainian Donbass, allegedly under the name (call sign) “Sedov”. Let us note that at the same time, Dmitry Sedov, the Head of the Supply Department of the Auto-Armored Aervice of the Southern Military District, served as Serdyukov’s direct subordinate in the District at that time. Later, in 2018-2019, the real Sedov, undoubtedly involved in the provision of the Russia’s occupation forces in the Donbass, received 2 years 8 months in prison from the Krasnodar Garrison Military Court, while retaining his “rank and awards received in combat zones”, for the sale “to the left” of four KAMAZ engines owned by Russian army.
General Serdyukov’s active role in planning and unleashing a war against Ukraine, in particular his experience of “interaction” with paramilitary groups, was noted by the Russian highest authorities, who appointed him in 2016 as the commander of the Russian Airborne Forces, with a further “sight” on the Serdyukov’s command of Occupation Forces of Russia in Syria. However, the peculiarities of the “mutual arrangement” of the careers of Serdyukov and Gurule within the framework of the “bathhouse scandal” obviously fell on “very much not to their liking” for some Russian highest military officers.
On September 15, 2017, at the 1420th kilometer of the “Kola” Highway in the Russia’s Murmansk Region, a car accident occurred when the minibus of the miliraty command, allegedly hurrying to the military camp for the “Zapad-2017” exercises at high speed. Russian army’s minibus suddenly broke the rules and crashed into an oncoming passenger car. In this incident, among others, General Andrey Serdyukov was seriously injured. It is noteworthy that reports of that incident appeared only on September 19.
At the same time, the Russian authorities’ official version sought to shift the blame onto the “successfully killed” driver of the oncoming car, Mr. Oleg Karamzin, who allegedly “lost control and drove into the oncoming lane”, which in fact did not happen. At the same time, Russian propaganda was “confused” at the moment of the latter’s death (it was reported that he died “on the spot”, either “in an ambulance”, or “in a hospital”), and Putin’s press-officer Dmitry Peskov refused to comment on this, telling the journalist that this is an “absurd question”.
At the same time, on the published records of other drivers’s DVRs, it was obvious not only that it was the military minibus that grossly violated the rules, but also that he did it suddenly, sharply “substituting” its board with the generals (and not, for example, its driver’s seat) under impact of an oncoming car. At the same time, some journalists stated that an allegedly civilian driver of the Center for Supporting the Activities of the Russia’s Northern Fleet with a long experience was driving the minibus, but his name does not appear anywhere, as well as information about any investigation – at least regarding the death of Mr. Karamzin.
However, Serdyukov, who received serious spinal injuries, not only survived, but he was able to return to active work already in November 2017, although he did not become the Commander of the Russian Armed Forces in Syria at that time. Instead, General Serdyukov, in his former position as commander of the Russian Airborne Troops, began to build up the Russia’s occupation contingent in the Crimea, creating by the beginning of 2018 “a separate airborne assault battalion of the Novorossiysk Airborne Assault (Mountain) Division with a deployment point in Feodosia”. In April 2018, General Serdyukov was noted for a surprise check of the combat readiness of the Russia’s 31st Separate Guards Air Assault Brigade, which is part of the so-called “peacekeeping contingent” of the CSTO. It is noteworthy that the emphasis of the check was placed on sniper and sabotage components of combat training.
In the summer of 2018, General Serdyukov was responsible for holding the stage of the “International Army Games – 2018” at the base of the Russia’s 76th Guards Airborne Assault Division in Pskov, namely the “Airborne Platoon” competition at the “Krasny Strugi” training ground, with the participation of the military of Algeria, Belarus, China, Iran, Morocco, Pakistan, Sudan, South Africa and Venezuela, as well as for conducting large-scale exercises near Ryazan, and all this was vigorously covered by Russian propaganda. Since February 2019, General Serdyukov nevertheless officially received the post of Commander of the Russian Forces in Syria, and it was he who was responsible for conducting a “hybrid” operation in Idlib to oust the pro-Turkish forces and expand the Russia’s occupation zone there.
Russian propaganda called these Serdyukov’s actions as “the acceleration of Russian-Turkish agreements on the joint patrols’ organization”. At the same time, “Human Rights Watch” makes General Serdyukov responsible for indiscriminate hostilities and other gross violations of international law during the offensive operation of Russian troops in Idlib. At the same time, some sources indicate another, “preliminary” Serdyukov’s trip to Syria, namely in May-June 2018 with exclusive powers, about which the “official biographies” are silent.
In September 2019, General Serdyukov withdraws from Syria and he builds up the Russian Army’s aggressive potential, further strengthens the Crimean group of Russian invaders. It was he who was responsible for the deployment of the “new regiment” of Russia’a airborne troops in the structure of the 7th Airborne Assault Division on the peninsula, which was carried out by the aggressor State until the end of 2021. Also in April 2020, General Serdyukov was “noted” in the Russia’s propaganda as part of the large-scale amphibious exercises in the Arctic Land of Franz Joseph. The local tactical grouping of the Russia’s Northern Fleet, stationed on the Alexandra Land, is aimed at carrying out aggressive and sabotage actions in the Arctic territories of NATO countries, primarily against Canada, Norway and the United States.
Two weeks before Serdyukov’s appointment as commander in Kazakhstan, he directed the exercises of Russian paratroopers in the occupied Crimea and in the Krasnodar Territory with the legend of “blocking the captured area and ensuring the rapid advance of the main forces of the compound”. Thus, General Serdyukov, at the head of the “peacekeeping mission” in Kazakhstan, has extensive acting experience within the framework of Russian Army’s occupation campaigns and interventions, coordinating collaborators, “hybrid forces” and paramilitary structures. His status as a defendant for international crimes, committed in Ukraine and a person in the sanctions lists “unties” his hands in committing new atrocities against the peace and against the foundations of humanity, now in Central Asia.
14. https://function.mil.ru/news_page/country/[email protected]