Below is a video from the YPG press office of a Russian Islamic State fighter, Vladimir Yurevich Oleynikov, who was captured allegedly attempting to cross into Turkey.
<iframe width=”640″ height=”360″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/adwQ89Cit_0″ frameborder=”0″ gesture=”media” allow=”encrypted-media” allowfullscreen></iframe>
Oleynikov was born in Kaspiysk in 1989. He was added to Russia’s list of terrorists and extremists in September 2016. There is an Interpol red notice against him (sans photo for some reason).
In the video he answers in Arabic.
He says that he came to Syria “around 2 years and 8 months ago, no more than 3 years ago.”
His Kunya was Abu Hanif al-Dagestani or Abu Hanif Rusi.
He was based in Syria only — not in Iraq — in Raqqa, Tabka, Mayadin and finally Al-Bukamal (Islamic State’s final stronghold in Syria). His route (if this was his route, i.e. if he ended up in Bukamal) mirrors that of other Russian-speaking Islamic State personnel (and families), who were sent to Mayadin after Raqqa came under siege, then when Mayadin was about to fall, they went to Bukamal — which turned out to be a rather short-lived and not very safe haven. It was not only fighters who went there, of course, but also their families and other personnel. If Oleynikov really did end up in Bukamal this would show that some of these tried to then pay smugglers to take them to Turkey — but this is really unclear.
It is not clear if there were other Russian-speaking individuals with Oleynikov, though it seems the YPG also issued videos of 2 other IS fighters, one from Azerbaijan and one from Germany.
He claims to have been a medic in IS and to have treated IS fighters.
He says he wanted to go to Turkey and not Russia (really this is rather a pointless question as Oleynikov is on the wanted list — he could not return to Russia without being arrested) — because only in Turkey he could live freely.
He says “I could not go home because they would put me in prison.”
Oleynikov says that they planned to travel across the border using smuggling routes (this is rumored to be how other IS fighters have escaped from Syria) and had stopped for a while in border villages.
Those who had agreed to help Oleynikov and those with him had also been arrested. Oleynikov says that it was not hard to find such people as long as you had money. (Again, this corroborates other rumors I’ve heard of Russian-speaking IS fighters crossing the border into Turkey using smugglers.)
He claims that it is easy to obtain fake documents to allow oneself to cross into Europe (i.e. as a refugee), incidentally this is a claim that Russian security forces have made about IS fighters in the past — that they would fake death in Syria and then obtain fake ID papers in Turkey to attempt to infiltrate Into Europe.