“Guys, you are for war” Mercenary of PMCs Wagner wrote a book of memoirs and gave “Medusa,” the first-ever interview about vagnerovtsah under his real name

Wagner’s private military company, which entered the war in Syria in 2015 and has since participated in a dozen local conflicts abroad, all this time remains a very closed and classified formation – despite hundreds of dead mercenaries, a direct clash with the US Army and  ties with the Kremlin … Meduza managed to find a person who first told about all this under his own name – this is Marat Gabidullin, who went in the company from an ordinary Wagnerian to the commander of a reconnaissance company. For four years of service, Gabidullin managed to secretly receive a state award, survive a serious injury and write his memoirs – as he claims, completely documentary: only the callsigns of the characters have been changed. Gabidullin told Meduza special correspondent Lilia Yapparova what his memoirs are based on, how he decided to publish them under his own name, and why he hopes that the publication of this book will “reason” the alleged owner of Wagner PMC Yevgeny Prigozhin.


“It can turn out badly for you. Death “

Foreign passports were handed over right before boarding the flight. Having looked through his, “Martin” noticed that this time not a single page of the document was decorated with a Syrian visa: apparently, they agreed to do without formalities. At the customs, the legionnaires were demanded to surrender their combat knives: no one cared that this was a tool that was in great demand in the field. “Martin” turned his back to the customs officer, who was collecting the seized “cold stuff” from the soldiers, and simply sent the backpack with the weapon to the transporter. He proceeded to passport control without looking back: “Fuck you, the knife will stay with me.”

Marat Gabidullin , “Twice in the same river”. 

– How did you end up in PMC Wagner?

– I already had experience in military service: after the Ryazan Airborne School I served in the Airborne Forces for five years. And in 2015, my friend from Siberia brought me to this office [PMC Wagner]. When I came to get a job with them [at the base] in Molkino, they offered to go through a polygraph. And in the nineties, during my free wandering around the civilian world, I got involved in what was then called “business”: I shot the local authority.

Because of this conviction on a polygraph, I was asked if I maintain a relationship with representatives of the criminal community. When I replied that no, I do not support, the printer was not satisfied with something ***** [damn it] in my reaction: “I have reason to believe that you do support …” Well, if I whom I know on the street will I see, should I cross to the other side and run away?

On April 1, 2015, I signed a contract with  Euro Policy and was enrolled in the staff – and I immediately liked their openness and directness. Nobody hid the possible consequences – they said honestly: “Guys, you are destined for war where there are interests of our state. Get ready for the fact that all this can turn out badly for you. Death. “GABIDULLIN WAS DEFINITELY A PMC?

– Did you start as a private?

– Yes, he became a private – and slowly, slowly advanced, eventually led a reconnaissance company. My guys acted on the front line of the enemy, and one platoon conducted reconnaissance with the help of drones and other technical means.

– Why did you decide to write a book?

– After being wounded [March 15, 2016 in the  battle for Palmyra ] – when I woke up. At first I just wanted to write everything down so as not to forget anything: it was a serious milestone for me. I then immediately realized that a very fat piece of my life had lived in vain: somehow everything was burned by itself, leaving no trace, from one unloved work to another. He was engaged in personal protection, he headed the security service in the company, drank deeply – and never made a military career, which he had dreamed of since the 10th grade.

I wanted to live the rest of my life to the maximum. And in the course of the development of the plot, another need arose: to convey to people that on the topic of PMCs there was a complete deception on the part of the military and politicians. The whole world knows, and you are hiding the truth from your own people. Is this normal?

“Were you so seriously injured?”

– A grenade exploded behind my back – and all the fragments went into my back. Bam! – and I’m already lying. I do not understand, I have gone blind, as if a stone lies on my chest – and the pain is hellish. When he slowly began to come to his senses, he put the machine gun on his belly – and let’s shoot back in the direction of the spirits . I had an idea that I needed to make them understand that I was alive and capable of resisting.

And then at some point I raise my eyes – and above me is “Ratibor” and extinguishes the spirits from a machine gun. Bam-bam-bam – and the shells are in slow motion. He extinguishes them and yells: “Pull, pull him!”

– Did you personally come to get you out?

– Yes. It costs a lot. As a result, the kidney, spleen and part of the intestine were removed. In the contract I signed with Euro Policy, treatment in case of injury was not mentioned at all. Nevertheless, after a coma, I woke up [in the Moscow region] in the [military] Vishnevsky hospital, and for the last operation I was generally transferred to the  private clinic “Sogaz” , which is located in St. Petersburg. There [in Vishnevsky] there was also an idea to give me a craniotomy, but, thank God, they refused it. Three fragments remained in my head, they lay down between the hemispheres – sometimes iron interferes with hearing normally.

– The first scene that you recorded after leaving the hospital?

– The battle for the height – this is where I was wounded on Palmyra – was the first in my head. I didn’t climb half of my coma from this height. As soon as I closed my eyes, another war began: the first thing I thought was that I was standing in full gear – and then a general met me. And the Soviet – in the Soviet form. “Comrade general, I somehow can’t understand where I am and what should I do here?” He looks at me and says: “Yes, you guy, along the way, died. Or in a coma. You give the rudders from here – you have nothing to do here. Break through to your own. ” I was in a coma for a week.

– How long did you spend in this “other war” – how did you feel?

– Endlessly. At first I was guarding a column of war elephants – we walked along a gorge like the one in which [the ancient city] of Petra stands. Then they ran into some kind of attack, began to crumble each other – and everyone around had nasty, distorted faces. Then something changed: I was already racing on some kind of glider , I went to some boundaries, I was torn beyond these boundaries – and I was rolled back. And when, apparently, the process of coming out [from the coma] had already begun, I saw the intensive care unit  only doctors seemed to me to be such apostles in light robes.

– So you woke up in the hospital, sat down with a notebook – and began to write?

– When I woke up, I could not stay upright for more than three seconds. And he began to write at home, at the end of the summer of 2016. I had a lot of free time – so I sat and wrote. At the same time I read “Sevastopol Stories” more attentively, “War and Peace” I swallowed like a detective novel. I reread Crime and Punishment – for the first time since prison.

I don’t have a “writing block”. It happens that you do push-ups, pull up, walk – and the image comes. Recently I have taken it as a rule: if something has arisen in my mind, I go straight to the dictaphone – and then I listen.

“Prigozhin read a piece and demanded the whole book”

An oil-bearing valley stretched out in front of the legionnaires for tens of kilometers. It was obvious that the substantia nigra should no longer feed ISIS. The al-Shair oilfields region, which fills the bank accounts of the leaders of the Islamic State, had to change the owner – and the mercenaries, descending from the ridge, began the procedure of changing the owner. 

Marat Gabidullin , “Twice in the same river”. 

– On the cover of the book now being prepared for publication it is not written “Marat Gabidullin”, but “Ded Martin” – why?

– This pseudonym for me [the alleged owner of Wagner PMC Yevgeny] Prigozhin came up with. “Martin” is the name of my alter ego from the book, and “Grandfather” is my own call sign. They called me that because I [in my platoon] was the oldest: I was in 1966 after all. The beard is already gray.WHO IS YEVGENY PRIGOZHIN?

– Does Yevgeny Prigozhin know about your book?

– Back in 2017, when I was  working as his assistant , he got acquainted with the draft. First I gave him a piece about Palmyra – and he read and demanded the whole book: “Everything that you wrote, give it here.”

– Did you show him the text in advance to hedge?

– I just wanted him to read it. He proceeded from the fact that he didn’t really know many of the things that were happening in Syria. Then a lot of people stuck [to the PMC] and really stole money from Prigozhin – only he never wanted to admit it. From somewhere he had a wild conviction that he was doing well. Although our rear services bought knee pads for work in the garden instead of tactical ones. Well, these are purely pillows so that you can roam around the beds – you won’t fall on the rocks in these, but according to the documents they were carried out as full-fledged. Specifically stealing!

He was deceived not only by the rear officials, but also by his closest assistants. This [launched at PMC Wagner] project for the purchase and rearmament of the BRDM was absolutely zero. We bought decommissioned BRDM vehicles, sheathed them with bars, installed observation systems, aiming systems, and weapons. But this car itself has aged in the sixties! There was no benefit from it.

– He edited the book, tried to somehow influence the text?

– I asked to add a whole chapter of the introduction, which would describe the history of the formation of Russian mercenarism from the Cossacks. The Cossacks also worked for those who paid: the Zaporozhye Sich was bought several times by the Poles and the Turks. And one of the marshals of the Soviet Union – [Rodion] Malinovsky – was a soldier of the French Foreign Legion, for example. Then volunteers in Yugoslavia – this whole chapter led to the fact that they were not such mercenaries and bad guys. 

And the expressions [from the book] that seemed to him the most successful, he printed out and kept for himself. He even reasoned that it would be necessary to force the [PMC] personnel to learn this quotation book, so that they often say things to themselves. For example, in a battle at a height, my hero says that at such a moment they do not measure themselves with their pants, but act. Then I have a phrase that “an experienced soldier is a delicate creature: he is able to understand the approach of danger by insignificant signs.” At such moments you think to yourself: “Handsome! Any methodical literature, perhaps, to issue on this score? “

– What did he think about the fact that you are going to publish a rather candid memoir about your work for him?

– Yes, he first took it upon himself – he published two or three books in 2017 (I mean the total number of copies, – Meduza’s comment ). The cover is blue, and he personally came up with the title: “Wagner. Overture to Faust “. I connected my press service for editing. One copy remained for me – there these editors poured so many jambs that I was sitting right there, right in the book, rules. He was going to give one copy to [the presidential press secretary Dmitry] Peskov – I even flew to Syria for this purpose and collected autographs of all the characters – well, whom I managed to catch. I went to “Ratibor” in the hospital to sign. 

“To be honest, I have no idea what you are talking about. I received the book from Prigozhin as a gift, but it was not in 2017, but much earlier – and it was about oriental cuisine, “Dmitry Peskov answered Meduza’s question about such a gift.AND WHAT DOES PRIGOZHIN HIMSELF SAY?

– Only three copies?

– Yes. He proposed to publish it in a normal print run later: “Now, the time will come – and we will publish your memoirs.” When is the time? When will no one be interested in this? When you have already turned everything upside down here – and you will mix it up so that it will be difficult to figure out where is the truth and where is fiction? He [Prigozhin] helped me a lot in my life, he provided me with treatment after being wounded – I understand that, but still I can’t overpower myself and agree with what is happening. I believe that Prigozhin is making a big mistake. 

– What mistake?

– Let him swear at me, let him trample me – the main thing for me is that he comes to his senses, so that the book will push him to reform the office [PMC]. Because you can’t get carried away with secrecy: why torture yourself when the whole world knows? Because now, because of the four morons who beat them with a sledgehammer and decapitate a deserter-militia , everyone else [in PMCs] thinks that they are the same bloodthirsty ghouls. 

But it was Wagner himself [PMC commander Dmitry Utkin] who urged them to do it! In order to intimidate [other potential deserters from the Syrian army]. And, as I was told, he also ordered the video to be filmed: “Fuck them and put them on the Internet so that the entire [Syrian] militia can see.”

This is already, ***** [damn it], abnormal – and Prigozhin must not forget that it was his beloved boss who called for all this to be done. And that we ourselves have created this situation, with our own hands. These four sadists now need to be brought to justice – and on what grounds will you do this? You just said that “they are not there”!

– And how did he perceive the main idea of ​​your book then, in 2017?

– Since then, the text, of course, has changed: I threw out something, wrote something more rigidly. But [three years ago] I got the impression that he understood me – and that he was on my side. In general, he is not a stupid man – and he can give an assessment to many participants in these events even more concrete and harsh than I do.

On the other hand, in direct words, he then only agreed that there are excesses on the ground. And according to the book, he said: “It is necessary to tell about the mercenaries, but later, in 2022.”

– Why 2022?

– I do not know exactly. Then no one probably expected that there would be changes in the Constitution. And now not 2022, but 2032 is the deadline.


“If you squeeze out the oil fields , you will receive a prize”

The Order of Courage lay in the palm of Martin’s palm with warm silver – he had just had to catch the weighty award cross with his teeth straight from a metal mug filled with vodka. Five mercenaries passed this ceremony on the occasion of the award – flushed, they stood at the table, served with sausage slices and canned cucumbers. The drunken “Martin” entered into a comic squabble with his comrades, the thin walls of the barracks shook with laughter. It won’t take much time – and with the connivance of commanders and security services, these awards will begin to trade.

Marat Gabidullin , “Twice in the same river”.

- You write that PMCs “trade in awards.”

– Yes, since 2017, individuals have appeared who simply “negotiated” with their commanders for medals. It is the company commander who presents the soldier for the award. But on what grounds does a detachment commander’s driver receive the order, if the commander himself never appears on the front line? They rewarded and fussed, who in time grabbed the valuable marauder – and shared with the commander. Although the armed forces also have this.

– “Marauder”?

– We weren’t crystal clear. Played around. In the headquarters on  Khayan and at the  “Tankodrome” , for example, there were ancient stones that we had taken from Palmyra – this, however, was not of a mass character. I once occupied a room where there was a [chipped] bas-relief on a shelf. Chipped, I think, from the upper platform from one of the columns – and there [on the bas-relief] some signs were depicted – perhaps writing.READ ALSO

The barbarians were here What a liberated Palmyra looks like

5 years ago

– Your comrades in PMCs are not offended that you write so directly about everything?

– Today I talked with one friend – he is completely delighted. He says that green youth who have recently come from the armed forces are now serving with him. People who managed to smell gunpowder in Chechnya or during the Georgian war no longer rush to the office.

And it turns out that more than half of the personnel – [in the war] for the first time. In Molkino [based on the Wagner PMC] they are insulted through word of mouth, they are simply trying to trample on them: “You are cannon fodder, but you are nobody.” The microclimate, to put it mildly, does not contribute to the formation of a community of professional soldiers: “Go there and shoot. If you succeed – we will win, if you fail – you will perish ”. And they also stopped preparing them for business trips – at one time we only had preparation for a month or two.

In 2015-2017, “Wagner” led a squad of gladiators – now he is leading an army of slaves. People are raised who have completely ruined their own opinion; most of the commanders do not correspond to the level of their positions at all. And the veterans, who still remain in this formation, decided for themselves: “Okay, I’ll wake up as a business trip sometime. The main task is to survive ”. Survive, do you understand? They no longer think about victory. 

– In Libya, PMCs are said to have had serious losses ?

– Yes, the office is losing in Libya. Because the campaign was organized by boobies. Usually, how they do it: a reconnaissance group leaves, delves into the situation, assesses the capabilities of the ally, and understands the combat capabilities of the enemy. The terrain must be thoroughly studied. And in Libya, this group worked from the bulldozer: “Yes, it’s okay: now we will stop by and strangle everyone here, like smoking!” They did not even take into account the possibility that Turkey will join this conflict. 

– You write that “Wagner” – in the book you call him “Beethoven” – has ceased to be a commander and “turned into a businessman”?

– As a tactician and strategist, he covers all our generals. But there were times when he could demand more resources from senior management to complete a task. But he did not use this commanding law: he simply did not want to quarrel with his superiors. And the guys ended up just turning into cannon fodder. In 2017, for example, it was impossible to go to take oil fields with such weapons and the amount of ammunition – it was simply impossible. But the military said to go. When the mortar men stupidly lack mines, and you drive people forward and forward, you are no longer a commander. You are a businessman: if you squeeze out the [oil] fields, you will receive a prize. As a result, the soldiers ceased to trust their commanders – and this is not even the only reason.

– What other reasons?

– Since 2018, some commanders took for themselves up to half of the bonus fund allocated for the squad, and the rest – crumbs – were distributed to the fighters. And in the international platoon, where the Serbs served, and [the Serbian mercenary] Davor [Savicic] was in charge of everything, back in 2015 there were extortions from the guys. Davor managed to instill in them the idea that “you are here in Russia, keep at my expense. And without my cover you will be sent back to Serbia. So 50 [thousand] rubles from each payday – to me. “

– Did the PMC management pay attention to such things?

– And in 2018 and 2019, I already stopped finding explanations why people were put at the head of this or that squad. The commanders were appointed as if by some kind of pull. For example, I was surprised when a “Pioneer”, who had previously worked only in the headquarters of the [mercenary group], became the head of the direction during the combat operation in Guta. You have no combat experience – how do you command?

Later, in 2019, an order was received to quickly send the Syrians from our ISIS Hunter squadron to Libya. When they arrived there, a call came from “Pioneer”: “Listen, but those you sent, can they be used as suicide bombers?” What a normal person would ask that! Especially about my guys. 

– Is the ISIS Hunters a detachment of Wagner PMCs?

– This is a battalion entirely recruited from the Syrians – in 2018 and early 2019 I worked as an adviser to this battalion, I trained them. Before me, the “Hunters” basically only pretended to be involved in real clashes: for example, their military “merits” were written on Twitter. But in fact, they were just filmed in the right places on video and photos, which then appeared on  social networks . This was a PR action, the main task of the “Okhotniks” was to bear the agitation load.

– That is, to cover up the actions of PMC Wagner? Demonstrate to the world that some Syrian units, and not a Russian PMC, are fighting ISIS?

– Yes, we are all built on this – on PR and plagiarism. In 2017, for example, how they did it: when we took Palmyra for the second time, “Hunters” suddenly came up from the rear and filmed. We were already at the airfield [of the Syrian Air Force near Palmyra] – and they only came to shoot a picture. Beautiful: I remember there were shots, how they followed our tank – in our tracks.

Then they slowly began to participate in battles. First, they cleaned up something on Akerbat, and fired somewhere under the guidance of Russian instructors. And on the Euphrates instructors and I have already achieved that they went on the attack themselves. I lost a lot of them then [on the Euphrates]. Terrifying losses. 

“ There are no Russians there! 

Barely perceptible in the roar of battle, the sound of a rocket approaching, a rupture – and the tank, which managed to make only one shot, turned into a torch. Another hiss – and the position of the grenade launchers was engulfed in a fiery tornado. “What is it, where is it from?” – Martin asked for the furnishings. The air rang out: “Take people away: aviation.” “Martin” walked away from the burning tank. Someone was groaning on the ground. Ten steps later, a soldier was lying face down. “Martin” turned him over – no face. Only the glow of conflagration, the smell of burning and darkness torn apart by fires. Unseen in the dark sky, the combat helicopters shot at everything that moved. The first clash between America and Russia in modern history did not end in favor of the Russian legionnaires.

Marat Gabidullin , drafts of the second part of the memoirs “Farewell, Legion!”

– What is your worst fight?

– Of course, [on the night of February 8, 2018] on the Euphrates. Because I felt just, ***** [damn it], helpless. Who to fight against? I have not seen this opponent! The enemy was American turntables [helicopters]. I then had a short machine gun, a shortened one for close combat, but even if I had a full-fledged one, I would not have got this helicopter. Confrontation with something unknown that will now fly in and smash your head off.

– You then tried to take the oil refinery, which was under the control of the fighters of the “Syrian Democratic Forces” and their American advisers – and fell under the American aviation. Who conceived such a risky attack – Prigozhin or the Russian military?

– I don’t know about that. But none of those on whom the situation depended found the courage to go out to him [Prigozhin] and say: “You can’t do this.” So that you don’t care so much about human lives!

– Didn’t our group have a communication channel with the Americans? After all, formally, both countries opposed primarily the Syrian militants.

– Of course, the commander of the [Russian] group and the Americans were constantly in touch. The Americans, as soon as they started the telephone contact, began to press our people to recognize that the formations were Russian. Now, if ours had recognized, then perhaps the actions of the Americans would have been different – purely preemptive. But our general completely dismissed the idea: “There are no Russians there!” It is clear that he was afraid to admit at the official level. Why did he need these problems.

– I was told that on the Euphrates prisoners of ISIS PMCs were also sent into battle. My interlocutor claims that he witnessed how Dmitry Utkin personally “recruited” such prisoners.

– A group of former spirits was indeed involved in the operation on February 7-8 – they attacked south of the village of Hasham. There on the Euphrates, Deir ez-Zor has an island where a prisoner of war camp is located – and when we approached [the river] and took up positions, someone pulled these spirits to the front. They just gave them weapons and sent them [into battle]: there, just try to turn around or do something – they will immediately slash you with machine guns. They went out and never came back. It is possible that [who held the Conoco refinery] the Kurds surrendered.

But in general, I have not heard about the recruitment of ISIS prisoners. They usually went through a system of interrogations: both our [from PMCs] and representatives of the Syrian special services worked with them. They were interrogated stupidly: our security service, consisting of former cops, interrogated them from the point of view of an operative who is investigating the crime, and not from the point of view of a military intelligence officer who needs to find out what is planned. Then the prisoners were handed over to the Syrians.

“So who is fighting, the army or PMCs?”

For the second week, “Martin” was at the Khmeimim military base among the Russian military – clean, well-groomed and well-fed. Residential units with air conditioning, playgrounds for sports, showers, cafes – legionnaires could only dream of such conditions. The tank museum, on the organization of which taxpayers’ money, pedestals and obelisks were spent – all these strange decorations aroused only one question from the mercenary: “Do they have anything else to do? The eastern bank of the Euphrates has been missed, they cannot overcome 200 kilometers under Idlib for the second year! ” Later, a colonel confesses to Martin that he got on a prestigious Syrian business trip thanks to a bribe in the amount of the salary for the first month in a hot spot.

Marat Gabidullin, “Twice in the same river”.

– Judging by the book, you didn’t really like it at the Russian base in Khmeimim.

– The paratroopers and marines are lazy faces that swim in fat at this base. All fattened and tanned return from a military trip – and with a booklet of a combatant. I heard how our soldiers in Khmeimim boasted of their exploits: “We have accomplished this task: we spent the whole night in secret!” This means they sat in security.

– But the Russian special forces even received awards for their exploits in Syria.

– Let’s just say: I saw the formation of the GRU only as an escort from politicians. For example, [the general of the Syrian army] Suheil , this parasite, is guarded by the boys-gereushniki. But for them to act on the front end, so that they carry out sabotage and reconnaissance tasks – I have never seen such a thing. And if they do sabotage, then only in cooperation with the local security services – and there is zero sense from this. 

But the formations of the MTR work in the front. As far as I know, in Aleppo their sniper pairs gave a lethal result. But precisely as the Special Operations Forces, they were greatly underperforming: they did not go on raids, did not go to the rear, did not ambush. At the same time, former SS men regularly criticize the actions of the Americans in the media: “Osama bin Laden was eliminated – and they managed to lose the helicopter!” What about you? Have you ever performed such operations at all?

Iraq is not Syria: the Americans used sabotage and explosions there. Unlike our MTR, the American “Delta” , “green berets” and “seals” were scattered all over the country: somewhere they would seize and seize, somewhere they would ambush a convoy. And what kind of practice do ours get, except for combined arms? Ride on the front end in their little cars?

– Did the PMC have a conflict with the military? You write a lot that you almost had to save on ammunition – such was the poor support from the Ministry of Defense.

– After the first capture of Palmyra, a stratum of people [from PMCs] appeared who, upon returning to Russia, said: “We took Palmyra.” Hospitals both in Khmeimim and in Russia were filled with our soldiers. The doctors asked: “So who is fighting, the army or PMCs?” And it hurt our generals. The offense took such forms that from the beginning of 2017 we were given low-quality weapons. It was complete disgusting: no matter how hurt the situation, you know that your compatriots are going into battle – so give them what they need so that more guys stay alive!

It is clear that we acted in our direction, and the Ministry of Defense, which helped the Syrian army, in its own. But if the PMC had not taken control of the pass near Palmyra and had not entered the local airfield, then it would have been impossible to take the city with this Syrian herd.

Марат Габидуллин в Пальмире
Marat Gabidullin in PalmyraArchive of Marat Gabidullin

– The Syrian army fought so badly?

– The Syrian army is an incapacitated formation, and the Russian command was often simply not able to push them to attack. And they demanded victorious reports from our generals. When I was there, one Russian general was so worried about his career – he needed to show himself as a swanky commander – that, without hesitation of witnesses, he dictated a false report to the group headquarters officer: “At the appointed time, the Syrians began to move forward, but faced fierce enemy resistance – and decided to gain a foothold on the already achieved lines. ” But in reality there was no “advancement” – they [the Syrian detachment] simply did not go anywhere.

Or the same Suheil. Our relationship with him began with Akerbat: the PMC took him, but the guys were ordered to retreat to the starting point – and then Suheil’s column approaches and begins to clear the empty city under television cameras.

– In the book, you describe how a Russian aircraft dealt several blows to its own people – is this a documentary episode?

– Yes, the whole book is documentary. In 2016, our Russian plane attacked the positions of the fourth detachment [PMC Wagner], where my group was. He started bombing us – everyone was scattered there. The spotter ran to the altitude and tried to divert this plane, but he was probably not informed about the change of encodings: he used the old ones – and the plane did not hear him. The pilot went on the second run – and with the second run removed this spotter.

As a result, a lot of ours died from this raid – and even the company commander was wounded, “Vagabond” . The guys rushed straight to  “Tifor”  – to tear this pilot to pieces, break his bones, beat up this goat with rifle butts – and what else to do? But there they were told that the plane took off not from Tifor, but from Khmeimim.WHAT IS THE POSITION OF THE MINISTRY OF DEFENSE?

“Hide the truth from ourselves”

Tamok’s gaze, cloudy from the effects of the anesthetic, expressed pain and bewilderment. How is it that even some 10 minutes ago he was in battle, either firing short bursts in the direction of the spirits, then substituting his shoulder for the wounded descending from a height. And now he is already lying, and instead of his left leg – a stump of bone. The remains of the Tamok’s legs, mutilated by the explosion, were thrown at a height: there were no free hands. In a month, he will die in a hospital in Russia. And again, like last time, the legionnaires will not be mentioned in official reports: according to politicians, the armed forces of the Syrian Arab Republic and the Russian Aerospace Forces are better suited for this.

Marat Gabidullin , “Twice in the same river”. 

– Has the victory over the militants been won in Syria, which was announced , for example, by Sergei Shoigu?

– I still have to fight periodically. There is, for example, the so-called white desert – an area that is now controlled exclusively by gangs of militants. This is a thorn in the eye of our military – something they do not want to admit. Even drones do not fly into the “white desert”; they began to purge , but did not complete it. And from there periodically come groups of ISIS members – ISIS members: in their trademark sandy robes and with  multicam inserts. They go beyond this area and commit some sabotage: undermining Major General Vyacheslav Gladkikh, for example. It happened not far from Deir ez-Zor – in the same place where the “musicians” keep the destroyed oil factories with the code names “ZIL”, “Moskvich” and “Zaporozhets”.

– Who is fighting off these attacks coming from the desert?

– At one PMC in 2019, on the border with the “white desert”, three people were ambushed. We saw smoke – a conflagration – and decided to check it; then it turns out that it was the spirits who set fire to the car that transported the wheat crop. And, to be honest, ours acted completely stupidly: they rushed there in an  armored personnel carrier , even without loading a machine gun, and jumped straight into the ambush. From where they fired from grenade launchers. Three were sitting right on the armor – they were immediately written off. And one more jumped out of the back door and began to shoot back: he zeroed out four spirits, was wounded, and then blew up a grenade on himself. But he remained alive: he had an armor [body armor] [of a firm] 5.11.

– What happened to him?

– Because of the grenade, he had a blunt trauma to his chest and abdomen, and he was cut by shrapnel. Then I went to the headquarters [of the Aerospace Forces in Khmeimim] – and they [the military] say: “Well, the kid needs to be awarded an award for his heroic deed.” I’m like, “This is correct – but which one?” They told me: ” ‘A man” ! ” I say to this colonel there: “Stop, excuse me: a man was shooting back, he was wounded, he blew himself up with a grenade. Here you don’t even need to invent anything, which is what you sometimes sin, inventing the feats of your special forces – this is [the award] Hero of Russia! ” I was no longer shy there. “Well, we received an order from above:” A man. ” 

Marat Gabidullin with a colleague in Syria
Marat Gabidullin with a colleague in SyriaArchive of Marat Gabidullin

– And what about the bodies of the victims?

– The area was checked haphazardly, one of the bodies was found only the next day. Since he lay in the sun all day, it was no longer possible to stand next to him. In addition, the spirits finished him off with a stone on the head – they flattened him. It was not even torture – this is their manner so cruel.

I was working at  Khimki at that moment and had to do all this: put the dead in the refrigerator, draw up documents [for the bodies]. I started – and immediately faced the fact that we, it turns out, cannot bury our soldiers in a dignified manner. We [at the base in Khmeimim] do not have any possibilities – only a refrigerator. They had to be taken to Latakia to the hospital, so that the Syrians would wash them from a hose, put them first in their antediluvian zinc coffins, then in plywood boxes. Of course, there was no one to put makeup on or bring the body back to a normal state.

I never thought it was so hard to do this work. When the board [with the bodies] finally lifted, I stood and looked – and so slowly, slowly walked to my wagon. He got there, opened the refrigerator, poured himself a glass of whiskey, knocked over it – and went to bed. How many people died like that? To give exact data is like giving government agencies a reason to make claims against me. But many people died.

– What do you think about the Russian policy of concealing losses?

– This is our only inheritance passed from one regime to another: to hide the truth from ourselves. It was a shame to say that they died in Czechoslovakia , it was a shame to say that they died in Afghanistan. The whole world knows that a Russian PMC is fighting, but we just don’t know our people. The central media not only keep silent, but simply lie at times.

Let’s say the battle [on the night of February 8, 2018] on the Euphrates – then [Maria] Zakharova, [Olga] Skabeeva, [Vladimir] Soloviev and all the rest of the bastard who speaks from the TV flatly abandoned us: “There are no Russians there mercenaries “. How many Russians died – and they simply refused! And after that no one will give a star to the dead posthumously, no one will provide their relatives.

Syria is Russia

A powerful SUV with tightly tinted windows confidently walked towards the column of mercenaries. By all indications it was the car of a muhabarat – local NKVD officers in black uniforms. The jeep was not going to give way: apparently, the all-powerful special service in Syria counted on the usual obedience to their stupid whims. “How few of these jeeps rush along the roads of Mother Russia, likewise not noticing anyone, disregarding both rules and concepts?” – suddenly thought “Martin”. There, in the salons, all sorts of managers, snickering businessmen and their offspring are also thrilled by their importance. But there, in Russia, it will be much more difficult to bring them all down to the ground than in Syria, where we have access to military weapons.

Marat Gabidullin , “Twice in the same river”.

– Your hero “Martin”, being in the war in Syria, often returns his thoughts to Russia.

– Life itself tells it. We also have a category of people who have become impudent through the connivance of the authorities; there are rich people who have no social responsibility.

Syria is simply an extreme degree of development of undesirable trends, which are also present in Russia. Hypocrisy, double standards, opportunism, dishonesty, and the most severe corruption. And the Syrians who grew up in this system are greatly corrupted by it. There, people who live in Hama do not care at all what is happening in Palmyra. We, too, are approaching this degree of irresponsibility and indifference.

– How did you find your current publisher, who is ready to release the book “until 2022”? In “VKontakte” the publishing house “Mercenary” is described as “the author’s project” about the “bloody behind the scenes of the war.”

– I started a discussion under one post on the Internet – and I was taken to the owner of this publishing house “Mercenary”. He says the pre-order dynamics are good, so the first print run will be 50 [copies]. The publishing house itself is located in Siberia – why not? Here, in the center, only those publishing houses flourish, whose literature is permissible from the point of view of power. And people on the periphery can afford to get away from this all-seeing eye.WHAT KIND OF PUBLISHING HOUSE?

– You can buy your book for one and a half thousand rubles. Are you planning to make money?

– It would be great if. No matter how much I rummaged through the resources, I have not yet met a single book where the story was documentary – they publish only all kinds of fiction and fantasy, some kind of mercenary.

But most importantly, I think this is good material for a script – the theme is unique, absolutely new. Why not make such a movie? Mikhalkov, or what, will rears and forbid? But there are some independent filmmakers. Although with a small budget, of course, this will not be the same.

– Are you not afraid of the consequences of the publication of your book?

– It would be silly to send someone to physically influence me, because it will directly lead to the customer. I don’t think they will go for it, but I’m still afraid.

But from the point of view of a normal person, there is nothing like that in this book – just a reason for thought. This is what they are afraid of – I will say, someone else will say, the third – then a whole wave will cover and everyone will understand: “Guys, what are they doing here? They have long been supposed to cut coal beyond the Arctic Circle and live in barracks. “

– Are you counting on fame as a writer?

– And what not? Too often in my life I have been modest, underworked, did not believe in my strength. How can? How long will it be like this? Well, I’m not a fool. Yes, not a genius! But not a fool either. 

(c)MEDUZA 2020


    • The memoirs of Marat Gabidullin, who served in Wagner’s private military company, have been removed from publication. Gabidullin’s book “In the same river twice” was planned to be published in December 2020 by the “Mercenary” publishing house.

      Lilia Yapparova, special correspondent for Meduza, read Gabidullin’s book before it was published and talked to him. Gabidullin’s interview was published on Meduza on December 1.

      On December 2, Snob journalist Aleksandra Vigraizer tried to pre-order the book, but Mercenary told her that the book would not be on sale, because “the author gave a stop.” Correspondents of MBH Media, who also contacted Mercenary, were told that “the author phoned today and refused to publish the book, this is his right”.

      The publishing house also confirmed to Meduza that the book “Into the Same River Twice” will not be published because the author “withdrew the print run”. “No comment,” a representative of Mercenary replied to a Meduza correspondent’s question about the reason for this decision of the author of the book.


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