Case study 1: Where are pro-Russian training bases located?

Bellingcat Case Study

On 19 May 2014, the BBC released a report about secret training bases in Ukraine, near the Russian border, where pro-Russian military servicemen were trained. The video was filmed in such a way as to make it impossible to locate the camp.

Using details shown in the video, Bellingcat investigative group identified the place where this video was filmed.

1. One of the screenshots feature graduates of the camp standing in front of the security service building in Luhansk. This screenshot prompted Bellingcat to assume that the camp was on the territory of Luhansk.

2. The camp is near water with the dock built on it.

3. Judging by the coloring of cottages the training camp may be located on the territory of former children’s camp.

Based on these details Bellingcat continued the search by means of Wikimapia. If you select the category “турбаза” (camps) on the Russian-language Wikimapia, it will provide information on all those camps that are located in the territory of Luhansk. From these camps we are interested in objects that are located near water and have docks.

After exploring from the satellite each point marked on the Luhansk territory it was established that the camp near water with a dock is the camp called “Ясены"(Yaseni) which is located in 800 meters from the Russian border.

Wikimapia database does not have photos of the camp, though a user has added information about the camp, saying that the place was a venue of the music festival and also indicated the festival webpage.

It is logical to assume that there will be photo/video materials of the festival available on the Internet. The festival webpage can be found in the Russian social network V Kontakte, where photo albums of festival are arranged by years. These photos show those painted cottages, water and the dock that were seen in the video featuring the military training camp.