Under that assumed name, he helped lead an uprising of ethnic Russians in South Ossetia, a breakaway region of the former Soviet republic of Georgia. Several English-language publications and books reference a man known as Andrey Laptev as having first been the chief of staff for a South Ossetian security council from 2004 to 2006 and then until 2008 serving as “defense minister” for separatist forces in the self-proclaimed Republic of South Ossetia.
He was effectively part of what would become a private Russian shadow army that later fought in Ukraine and even later in Syria, where they took a strike in February from U. Yet Laptev appears in no photographs from the breakaway region, though the conflict stretched over more than four years.
The head of Holland's National Investigation Service called on witnesses to help identify those who gave orders. Russia’s defense ministry said that “Russian BUKs never crossed Ukraine border.” The July 17, 2014, missile strike on a plane full of passengers from 17 countries flying above 30,000 feet from Amsterdam to the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur shocked the world.
Ukrainian leaders blamed Russia or ethnic Russian separatists.
In the case of Ivannikov, the University of Colorado-Denver’s Center for Media Forensics determined intercepts were too short or too noisy for proper comparison.
D thesis about information warfare at the Southern Federal University in Rostov-on-Don.
The reporting team also secured two photos of Ivannikov, one from 2012 and one from his 2003 passport application.
The break in identifying Orion came through cellphone data, obtained by Bellingcat, that contained the mobile number Orion used in one of the intercepts.
There were “hits” for this number in two publicly available phone-sharing apps.