On October 1, 2022, the Russian army left the city of Liman in the Donetsk region: “In connection with the creation of a threat of encirclement, the allied troops were withdrawn from the settlement of Krasny Liman to more advantageous lines,” Colonel General Igor Konashenkov said at the time.
Retreating from the Kharkov region, tankers, motorized riflemen, artillerymen and signalmen are all parts of the ground forces, the backbone of the Russian army. The number of ground forces exceeds half a million people, and for the last nine years they have been led by General of the Army Oleg Salyukov.
The series of defeats of the Russian army, which began in early September, forced President Vladimir Putin to announce a partial mobilization in Russia, and the abandonment of Liman was all the more painful, since the day before, on September 30, the Russian leader held a ceremony in the Kremlin, at which he announced the entry of Donetsk, Zaporozhye, Luhansk and Kherson regions to Russia.
While Russian troops, abandoning their equipment, were rapidly retreating from the Kharkov region, Svyatogorsk and Liman, in the Patriot park near Moscow they were preparing to celebrate the Day of the Ground Forces.
Vladimir Putin’s telegram, published on the Kremlin website on the morning of October 1, 2022, said: “The current personnel of the ground forces strive to be worthy of their predecessors.” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu also praised them: “Servicemen of combined arms formations and military units are effectively fulfilling the responsible tasks assigned to them, acting in a coordinated and decisive manner.”
Muscovites and residents of the Moscow Region, who were going to visit the Patriot Park that day, were promised the following entertainment: a day of open hatches at the museum site No1 (this is when visitors can get into the fighting compartment of a tank), a children’s tank track, army simulators for controlling various military equipment and the “highlight of the program” is the MT-LB transporter with an ancient anti-aircraft gun of the 50s.
When the celebration was over, the tourist portal of the government of the Moscow region reported on October 3 that more than five thousand people attended the holiday: “The day began with a service in the Main Temple of the Armed Forces of Russia, which was visited by the military,” the website of the Moscow Region government said. “After that, on the Cathedral Square, a concert began, at which musicians from the company of the guard of honor and the orchestra of the Preobrazhensky Regiment performed.
Almost half a year later, on March 2, 2023, the news feeds of Russian news agencies were filled with disturbing news about the breakthrough of a large group of Ukrainian saboteurs into the territory of the Bryansk region. On the same day, relatives of those mobilized from the Irkutsk region, who by that time had already issued three appeals to authorities at various levels that they were being thrown into suicidal assaults on Ukrainian positions in the area of the Avdeevka industrial zone, reported that almost all military personnel had died and “Nothing left of the regiment.”
And in the Moscow House of Cinema on March 2, according to the plan, a gala evening “Patriots of Avtodor” was held for a thousand guests. The guests were greeted by a military orchestra in the hall and the Yunarmiya ensemble on stage. The hall was attended by the commander of long-range aviation of Russia, Lieutenant-General Sergei Kobylash, deputy commander-in-chief of the ground forces Viktor Lizvinsky, deputy chairman of the RVIO Nikolai Ovsienko, deputy of the Moscow City Duma and employee of the All-Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company Andrei Medvedev.
“More than 1,000 employees of the State Budgetary Institution “Highway Roads” watched the documentary film “Territory” on the big screen, which tells about the work of specialists from the Moscow city economy complex involved in the restoration of the annexed territories of Russia,” the press service of the State Budgetary Institution of Ukraine said about the event on March 6. The guests were presented with certificates and commemorative signs “From the grateful people of the DNR” and “the grateful people of the LNR”.
The holidays at the Cinema House and the Patriot park near Moscow were united by their organizer – a swarthy, pretty brunette with a Burberry bag on her shoulder, CEO and owner of HQ Agency Dina Salyukova, daughter-in-law of the army general and commander of the Russian ground forces Oleg Salyukov.
“We will draw any concept”
The creative agency HQ Agency (HQ Agency LLC) was established in 2016, its office is located half an hour from the elite residential complex on Michurinsky Prospekt, where Dina Salyukova lives with her husband and is in a local house chat.
She combines work in an event agency for organizing commercial events with the position of deputy head of the public relations department of the State Budgetary Institution “Automobile Roads”, for which part of these holidays is done.
The agency positions itself as a “dynamically developing company for organizing business events” and promises its customers: “Close interaction with relevant government agencies allows you to establish a dialogue between business and government.”
Only one state contract, won by the agency at an auction in 2018, for organizing the participation of the Moscow City Hall in international exhibitions for 435 thousand rubles, is publicly available on the public procurement portal. In the same autumn, the “Unified Information and Settlement Center” of the mayor’s office, which collects utility bills from Muscovites, bought 500 flash drives and 305 wooden boxes worth about 900 thousand rubles without a competition from the Salyukova agency as the “sole supplier”.
However, in September 2018, as part of the celebration of Moscow Day, the agency also organized the Red Fox British beer festival in Novokosino. In 2019, by order of the Avtodor State Budgetary Institution, one of the stages of the All-Russian Energy Saving Festival was arranged for the 20th anniversary of the Day of Road Workers, reports on these holidays are available on the HQ Agency website.
The agency has developed particularly close relations with MGIMO, the authorities of the Tula region and the Ministry of Defense. The days of MGIMO in the Tula region in May 2019 were accompanied by a big concert in the city center, in September of the same year, Governor Alexei Dyumin opened a monument to Leo Tolstoy on the territory of MGIMO, a separate feature of the agency is corporate events in the Patriot Park near Moscow of the Ministry of Defense.
To check publicly available information, a BBC correspondent called the agency’s director general, Dina Salyukova, posing as a regional official who is interested in holding a series of patriotic events in her area.
“You need to understand what you need. What format, how many guests, where it will take place, a concept will be formed for this,” Dina Salyukova explained in a telephone conversation. “Patriotic events are held constantly, we are engaged in this direction – there are no questions. You need to understand your format, your budget, and we’ll draw any concept you need.”
In order not to lose a new potential client, after some time, Dina Salyukova herself got in touch on WhatsApp and explained why army-related events were not mentioned on the agency’s website, although her company’s competitive advantages are high: “They don’t always want to show a patriot. The Department of Defense is very close. I would even say too close.”
The celebration of the Day of the Ground Forces in Patriot Park, according to her, the agency team has been organizing for the last four years: “The entire organization team was initially assembled from the event departments of the Patriot Park and the Avangard Center. it from scratch and held for 10 months an uncountable number of patriotic events with the participation of Shoigu and Putin.
As confirmation of her words, Salyukova sent an extract from the order of the Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu “On awarding a diploma of the Ministry of Defense. For assistance in solving the tasks assigned to the armed forces of the Russian Federation” Salyukova D.G. dated July 19, 2021.
ANO “Educational and methodological center for the military-patriotic education of youth” Avangard “was created in 2019 by the Moscow mayor’s office, the government of the Moscow region and the Ministry of Defense. The authorities of the two regions allocated 2 billion rubles to the center at the start, and the military department – 28.5 hectares in a park near Moscow “Patriot” This federal institution of the Ministry of Defense finances directly – the park was built at an accelerated pace for the Army-2015 forum.
In 2015, the Commander-in-Chief of the Ground Forces, Oleg Salyukov, decided for the first time to celebrate the day of these troops in Patriot Park and promised to “maximize” use of its area “for organizing large-scale events.” By that time, his son Dmitry worked in the Patriot park (he was responsible for exhibitions, marketing, advertising, interaction with historical clubs and reenactors), and his daughter-in-law Dina – just in 2015, the young people got married.
“In short, we can do anything,” the CEO of HQ Agency concluded a conversation with the BBC.
“And then the rattling begins”
“We are sitting like this with Dmitry Olegovich and do not understand how we are so lucky,” – in the photo, Dina Salyukova poses at a table in a bar against the backdrop of the Adriatic Sea. “Dmitry Olegovich is used to large portions in Montenegro, now we are eating, sir,” – in the photo, the husband of the founder of the agency Dmitry Salyukov.
In the social network Instagram banned in Russia, Dina Salyukova has several accounts at once, where the same photos are posted from her wedding, driving a car, from trips to Switzerland, the Netherlands and Dubai.
Every year, judging by the photographs, the couple attend rehearsals and parades on Red Square.
Dmitry Salyukov was born in 1982 in Dimitrovgrad, Ulyanovsk region, where his father studied at the Higher Tank Command School.
In 2004, Salyukov Jr. graduated from the Khabarovsk State Academy of Economics and Law with a degree in Crisis Management. His father at that time served in the Far Eastern Military District – first as chief of staff and commander of the 35th Army, and then as commander of the entire district.
From the biography of Dmitry Salyukov and the data of the Unified State Register of Legal Entities, it follows that even before graduating from the academy, he tried to do business in Khabarovsk, and after his father was transferred to the capital, he was a co-owner of the Exotic Park with rare animals on the 47th kilometer of the Kaluga highway in New Moscow.
“A pleasant, active young man,” recalls Dmitry Salyukov, one of his business acquaintances.
The co-owner of Exotic Park was the ex-head of the Rosselkhoznadzor department for Moscow and the Moscow region, Alexei Volkov. He and Salyukov Jr. worked together in Patriot Park, where Volkov received the post of deputy director for economics and development. Soon he was detained by the FSB, and the Basmanny Court of Moscow sentenced him to 7 years in prison for extorting a bribe – he promised to resolve issues with the Moscow prosecutor for money.
Judging by the materials of the case published by the media, Volkov was also well acquainted with Salyukov Sr.: for example, he sent out an invitation to the guests to the general’s anniversary at the Le Mare restaurant.
In 2010, by decree of President Dmitry Medvedev, Oleg Salyukov was appointed Deputy Chief of the General Staff and a couple of years later he became the owner of a 95-meter apartment in an elite building in Ruzheiny Lane in the Moscow district of Khamovniki, where Colonel-General Andrey Kartopolov, head of the State Duma Defense Committee, became his neighbors , the speaker of the Ministry of Defense, Lieutenant-General Igor Konashenkov and the Commander-in-Chief of Long-Range Aviation Sergei Kobylash.
The Insider (recognized in Russia as a “foreign agent” and “undesirable organization”), referring to an extract from Rosreestr, reported that the state gave General Salyukov an apartment for 70 million rubles.
The son of Salyukov in 2010 first entered the civil service. He began his career in the same state structure with which his wife successfully cooperates – MGIMO (U) of the Russian Foreign Ministry. Dmitry Salyukov headed the department of scientific projects there and acted as a military expert – he helped MGIMO Vice-Rector Alexei Podberezkin analyze “scenarios for the development of the strategic situation, wars and military conflicts in the 21st century” and independently reflected on the links between “national human capital, the military-industrial complex and the air space defense.”
“The stake on military force in politics in any form inevitably means an emphasis on military superiority, which in the 21st century is determined not so much by the number of weapons, military equipment and personnel, but by the quality of weapons and military equipment and military personnel, as well as those who make military-political decisions” , – wrote Salyukov Jr. in his article on human capital in the defense industry and aerospace defense.
In August 2013, Salyukov Jr. and his future wife Dina became co-owners of Montazhspetsstroy LLC, which was headed by Dina’s father Georgy Pogosyan. Immediately after he transferred his 50% stake to them, this company won four tenders of the Main Directorate of Engineering Works (GUIR) No2 at the Spetsstroy federal construction agency, which was under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Defense.
The GUIR was building a training ground for the Ground Forces Combat Training Center in Mulino, Nizhny Novgorod Region – the Ministry of Defense was going to set up a laser tag (a laser combat simulation system) there, following the example of the German Bundeswehr. In July 2013, the Germans were ready to send equipment to Mulino (50 out of 120 million euros had already been paid for it), but the installation slowed down the Russian long-term construction – the military had to build a “city” and a “village” with a railway station at the training ground, but lagged behind chart for the year.
In such an emergency, the company of the son of General Salyukov in September-November 2013 won the right to supply concrete, special equipment and workers to the Battle in the City and Battle in the Village 1 sites in Mulino. Having received these contracts, the owners decided to quietly get rid of the company itself, it was attached to Dolphin LLC registered in Kazan – this is a popular scheme on the market for closing a company without inspections, in which the successor is responsible for its previous obligations and debts. Already in Tatarstan, the successor, having simultaneously absorbed a dozen Moscow firms, self-liquidated.
In May 2014, General Salyukov headed the ground forces, and his son’s company, which earned money on the construction of a training ground for these troops, ceased operations.
But the history of “Montazhspetsstroy” did not end there. In 2018, the Khoroshevsky District Court of Moscow considered the criminal case of Yury Grebtsov, Deputy Head of the Main Directorate of Inspection for Economics and Finance No2. The court found that Salyukov Jr. and his partners were illegally allowed to participate in military construction tenders. Montazhspetsstroy had no equipment, no workers, and no experience, except for participation in the improvement of the elite cottage village “Capitol” near Moscow for 13 million rubles.
There were also no applications from the GUID for its services and the services themselves, on the fulfillment of which their actual price depended. However, the customer paid “Montazhspetsstroy” all four contracts to the maximum, and one of them even twice (allegedly they were going to make changes to it) – in total, almost 25 million rubles.
The loss of this amount had little effect on the financial position of the military construction department, the audit report said. The training ground for the ground forces, led by General Salyukov, by that time already cost more than 4 billion rubles, and the military lost 50 million euros paid for German equipment due to sanctions (now, at the training ground in Mulino, they train those mobilized for the war with Ukraine – the authorities of Nizhny Novgorod regions purchased beds for them).
Grebtsov was sentenced to a suspended sentence of 4 years for using his powers “in order to extract benefits and advantages for himself and others”. The injured structure of Spetsstroy did not collect 25 million rubles in damages from anyone. Already during the war, the seizure of Grebtsov’s house in Barvikha near Moscow, real estate in Moscow and the BMW X5 XDRIVE25D and Lexus LX570 cars was removed.
The son of General Salyukov, his wife and father-in-law, the ex-general director of Montazhspetsstroy, like the other two co-owners, did not have to pay or answer in this case – they all appeared in court as witnesses. Salyukov, Jr., based on the text of the verdict, testified that he did not know anything about the company’s transactions, he did not receive money “and other valuables” from them.
By that time, he himself was already building a career as an official in the capital. Since 2017, Dmitry Salyukov has been the deputy head of the State Budgetary Institution “Automobile Roads” in Moscow, where his wife still continues to work. At the same time, the family, with the support of the mayor’s office, organized a forum for the travel industry “Travel around Russia” – the husband headed the organizing committee, and the wife, as the general producer, attracted sponsors.
On June 16, 2020, by order of Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, Salyukov Jr. was appointed to the position of Deputy Prefect of the North-Western Administrative District of Moscow. Prefect of SZAO since 2015 – retired colonel Alexei Pashkov.
As his deputy, Dmitry Salyukov oversees issues of transport, communications and garage construction.
“He is engaged in the demolition of garages, personally goes to fight with the residents, because everyone wants them not to be demolished. He meets people, tells them some stories, then he brings road workers, and they are ratting there: the gates are handed over for scrap,” says about work of Dmitry Salyukov, one of the municipal deputies, personally acquainted with the official. “I saw him because the residents invite me when they are demolished. First he says that there is no place for garages, and then rat-catchment begins.”
The deputy recalls that the budget of the Moscow district is about 5 billion rubles, so the position of deputy prefect is an excellent launching pad for a further career in the federal authorities. The meaning of the work of the executive branch at the middle level in Moscow, according to the BBC interlocutor, is the beneficial disposal of the city resource: “There are no interests of residents, no talk about expediency, all prefects and their deputies think only about investments – to demolish garages, sell a piece of land to a developer so that he builds something there and everyone earns.”
In the income statement of Dmitry Salyukov for 2021, four residential buildings with an area of more than a thousand square meters are indicated. and five land plots – a total of 2 hectares. In Moscow, his family had two apartments 95.7 and 85.6 sq.m. A year before the start of the war in Ukraine, Dmitry declared 12.3 million rubles, and his wife Dina – 8.3 million rubles, in total they earned more than 20 million.
By 2019, his father also acquired land with a total area of 0.45 hectares – that year he earned 10.2 million rubles (his wife – about 200 thousand rubles), follows from the last published declaration of the general – a year later, income “in civilian “his son’s family was one and a half times higher.
On March 14, together with Governor Alexander Bogomaz, Salyukov was already inspecting the border regions of the Bryansk region, the protection of which the general promised to strengthen.
Oleg Salyukov became Commander-in-Chief of the Ground Forces in May 2014. His predecessor in this post, Colonel General Vladimir Chirkin, was dismissed in connection with a criminal case involving a $20,000 bribe. In August 2015, General Chirkin was sentenced to five years in prison, but a few months later the real term was replaced with a fine of 90 thousand rubles and all awards and regalia were returned.
Salyukov has held his post longer than any of his predecessors in history, including marshals Zhukov, Konev and Malinovsky, throughout his career he regularly received early promotions in rank, and when he was awarded the title of “general of the army” in February 2019, at the moment – the highest rank in the Russian armed forces, news agencies noted that “an army general appeared in Russia for the first time since 2015.”
Salyukov deals not only with military problems. When the security forces detained Ivan Belozertsev, Governor of the Penza Region, in March 2021, the Kommersant newspaper wrote: “The governor is considered a person who received his position thanks to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. Ivan Belozertsev studied at the Ulyanovsk Tank School along with the current Commander-in-Chief of the Ground Forces Oleg Salyukov. they maintained warm relations, and General Salyukov recommended Mr. Belozertsev to Minister Shoigu, who facilitated this appointment.” On March 17, a court in Moscow began considering Belozertsev’s case on charges of accepting bribes on an especially large scale and illegally keeping a pistol and cartridges at home.
As Commander-in-Chief, Salyukov at least twice a year gives interviews to the Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper of the Ministry of Defense about the life of the ground forces, while the headlines of these conversations with the general do not differ in great variety: “The new frontiers of the” queen of the fields “,” The confident tread of the “queen of the fields” , “The powerful step of the “Queen of the Fields”, “The victory word is for the “Queen of the Fields”, “The power of the “Queen of the Fields” is in statics and dynamics”, “The Queen of the Fields is increasing its power” and “The power of the “Queen of the Fields” will increase”.
The content of these conversations from year to year is also approximately the same: the commander tells the correspondent what international games and exercises the Russian troops participated in, what new models of weapons and equipment the military received, what modernization and maneuvers the military personnel will have next year.
For example, in 2018, the general assured the readers of Krasnaya Zvezda that the command “is carrying out systematic work to modernize systems with unmanned aerial vehicles already put into service and create promising models that can perform not only reconnaissance, but also strike missions.”
In 2019, he told how modern robots are being introduced into the troops: “Military robots in modern conditions allow minimizing combat losses and maximizing the efficiency of task performance. The use of robotics is associated with the performance of both combat missions and comprehensive support tasks.”
And in 2020 – that in the Russian army everything is fine both with communications equipment and with drones: “Communications units are being re-equipped with modern tactical communications communications. /…/ The Ground Forces are improving the system of using drones, calculations with UAV complexes are already operating in the interests of combined arms units at the “company – battalion” link and, accordingly, new types of complexes, including the “copter” type, are appearing to solve tasks at the tactical level.
Why the Russian army did not have all this by the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine, General Salyukov still did not explain, but on September 30, 2022, when mobilization was already underway in Russia, he said in an interview with the same Krasnaya Zvezda: “We all the expression is known: “Until an infantryman’s foot has set foot on the ground, this territory is not considered liberated from the enemy.” The so-called infantry among the people has occupied and will continue to play a decisive role in holding the liberated territories.
To consolidate trust in relations with a new potential customer, Dina Salyukova sent a letter to the BBC correspondent “for the reasonable initiative and professionalism shown during the events dedicated to the celebration of the 472nd anniversary of the formation of the Ground Forces”, which she received on October 1, 2022 presented by General of the Army Oleg Salyukov. His subordinates at that moment, abandoning their equipment, retreated from Liman.