Bellingcat: Russian high-ranking military officer Oleg Ivannikov involved in MH17 downing
Ivannikov previously served as defense minister of the partially recognized South Ossetia.
The Bellingcat research team and other investigators have concluded that Oleg Vladimirovich Ivannikov, an officer of the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Ministry of Defence (GRU), who had previously held the post of Defense Minister of South Ossetia, participated in the transfer of the Buk air defense missile system from Russia to Donbas, Conflict Intelligence Team twitted.
The Bellingcat team, The Insider and other investigators found that ‘Andrey Ivanovich’ or ‘Orion’ who Dutch-led probe has said was a person of interest in MH17 downing, is Russian Oleg Ivannikov. Previously, he had served as the Minister of Defense of South Ossetia.
The international investigation team probing into the Boeing tragedy published records of intercepted telephone conversations of separatists and asked for help in their identification. Two men with callsigns "Delfin" and "Orion" can be heard on the recording; "Delfin" was also referred to as "Nikolai Fyodorovich." In December 2017, Bellingcat and The Insider established that "Delfin"’s voice was identical to that of the Russian Colonel General Nikolai Tkachev, Chief Inspector of the Central Military District, who, however, completely denied involvement in the tragedy.
The GRU officer Oleg Ivannikov, according to the new Bellingcat investigation, is the "Orion" from the audio footage. Novaya Gazeta reported that the investigators said at the press conference that Ivannikov was known under the name of Andrei Ivanovich Laptev in South Ossetia; he also oversaw Wagner PMC in the Donbas.