«Tsar Wolves»-2. Squads of BARS, their commanders and why this «brigade» is not PMC of Rogozin

царские волки рогозин
Collage: investigator.org.ua

«Tsar Wolves» is would-be military company, created and promoted in mass media by Dmitrii Rogozin, ex-member of the Russian State Duma, ex-Vice-Prime Minister of the Russian government, ex-Head of «Roscosmos» and current member of the Russian Senate «elected» in the occupied part of Zaporizhzhia region.

«Tsar Wolves» is the umbrella name for «military technological center», piloting new weapons of Russian private companies, «Russian volunteer attack brigade» and training centers for drone operators. These «organizations» are not registered as legal entities. Titles of «brigade» and «battalion» of their military units are just titles as the number of their personnel is small and do not correspond to real brigades or battalions.

The first part of our investigation of «Tsar Wolves» has been about origins of «Tsar» name, stolen by Rogozin, his past as an advisor of war criminal Radovan Karadzic and drones and other weapons tested by his center under real combat conditions (see video version here).

This part focuses on the military wing of «Tsar Wolves» – squads of BARS, their commanders and their fighting in the Russian war against Ukraine.

First of all, let us clarify what do squads of BARS mean? This abbreviation is deciphered as «Military or Combat Army Reserve of Country», i.e. Russian mobilization reserves. Its creation has been stipulated by the Order of the President of the Russian Federation in 2015. The real recruitment of «reservists» has been launched in autumn 2021, on the eve of the Russian invasion into Ukraine.

So-called «Russian volunteer attack brigade» of «Tsar Wolves» includes four squads of BARS under numbers 1, 3, 10 and 11. Unlike the «brigade», these squads are legalized: volunteers signed half a year contracts with the Russian Ministry of Defense and were sent as members of BARS to the front line. Dmitrii Rogozin with his «experts» and «military advisors» was able to get to the front within the system of BARS.

Russian «reservists» do not have status of the personnel of the Russian Armed Forces and their squads are not military units of the Armed Forces. They are «attached» to certain military units. For example, so-called «Aksyonov people» (Crimean «volunteer battalions» «Livadia» and its unit «Convoy» headed by Pikalov, friend of Prigozhyn) are legalized as BARS-30. They are under operational management of the 150th motorized infantry division. So-called «battalion named after Sudoplatov» created by Balytski, the Russian «head» of occupied Zaporizhzhia region, is the squad called BARS-32.

Squads of BARS within so-called brigade of «Tsar Wolves» and BARS-32 are attached to the 58th Russian Army named after Suvorov. It is fighting in Zaporizhzhia region. «Tsar» units as well as other BARS units are used by Russian commanders to support Russian regular military units in the most difficult sectors of the front.

In accordance with Ukrainian military analyst Kostyantyn Mashovets, squads of BARS 1, 3 and 11 have fought within the 70th, 71 and other motorized infantry regiments of the 58th Army near Orikhiv and Tokmak during last months. For example, they hold height # 170 between villages of Novoprokopivka and Verbove. 

Зліва направо: «Сєнатор» Дмітрій Рогозін, Іван Оголєнко, командир БАРС-10, Артур Бацев, командир «бригади «Царские волки». Фото: ТГ-канал РОГОЗИН

From left to right: Russian «senator» Dmitrii Rogozin, Ivan Ogolenko, commander of BARS-10, Artur Batsev, commander of «brigade» of «Tsar Wolves». Photo: telegram channel of Rogozin

BARS-10 has been under operational management of the 136th separate motorized infantry brigade (military unit # 63354, stationed in Buinaksk), part of the 58th Russian Army. In accordance with Mashovets, this brigade has been in Berdyansk direction until September 2023. Then, it has been transferred to Tokmak area.

That is to say, squads of BARS are not «tik-tok troops of Rogozin» (unlike «volunteer-senator» himself). They fight, their soldiers receive military awards, they die and disclose their names.

50 years old Artur Yevgenievich Batsev (call sign «Piton») is the commander of so-called brigade «Tsar Wolves». As Russian mass media reported, he graduated from Blagoveschensk high tank command school named after Meretskov in 1996 and later from the military academy. He has served in the Russian Armed Forces until 2014 when he resigned as the colonel and commander of regiment.

Other media sources reported that Batsev has served in the internal troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia (it has been called the Russian National Guard since 2016). For example, he has commanded Khankali separate battalion of internal troops within Russian Unified Group of Forces involved into counter-terrorist operations on the territory of North Caucasian region.

In accordance with «Deklarator» project, Batsev has been Deputy Commander of military unit # 5580 of internal troops of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs in 2012 situated in the Russian city of Tule. In 2015, he has been appointed as the Deputy Head of Kalininsky  raion of Krasnodarsky krai. 

Артур Бацев (Пітон), командир т.з. Добровольчої ударної бригади “Царские волки” 

Artur Batsev (Piton), the commander of brigade «Tsar Wolves», with and without a beard. Photo and screenshot of video: telegram channel «Tsar Wolves»

Since 2015, Batsev has been a member of Goryachii Kluch raion association of «Kuban Cossack Troops». In accordance with the Russian State Register of Legal Entities, since 2018, Batsev Artur Yevgenievich (Russian taxpayer’s code 280128423447) has been founder and manager of Krasnodar-based LLC  «Armada» and «Armada plus» liquidated in 2020.

Artur Batsev has fought against Ukraine in Donbas since first days of the Russian «special military operation». He has been commander of Cossack «battalions» named after Otaman Zakharii Chepiga (BARS-1) and «Kuban»  (BARS-16). Batsev and some soldiers from Cossack battalions created squad «BARS-11 in autumn 2022. Since the beginning of 2023, Batsev has headed so-called brigade «Tsar Wolves».

We know about one deputy of Batsev, commander of «Tsar Wolves». In June 2023, Rogozin conducted awarding ceremony for soldiers of BARS-1. He praised them for destruction of Ukrainian armored vehicles in Zaporizhzhia region and posted video of ceremony on telegram channel of «brigade». The Russian «Order of Courage» has been also awarded to Artyom Aleksandrovich Artyomov. Rogozin called him the «deputy commander of attack brigade «Tsar Wolves».

Artyom Artyomov (call sign «Neman») is the bodyguard of Dmitrii Rogozin. He accompanied him to Donetsk restaurant Shesh-Besh when Rogozin and his clique were hit by the Ukrainian rocket. Artyomov, Rogozin and his four bodyguards and assistants were registered as volunteers of BARS-11 in December 2022. Artyomov has been also called as «military advisor» on various videos and photos. 

Артьом Артьомов (Нєман), Дмітрій Рогозін (Сармат), Артур Бацев (Пітон)

Artyom Artyomov («Neman»), Dmitrii Rogozin («Sarmat») and Artur Batsev («Piton»). Photo: telegram channel of «Tsar Wolves»

Artyom Artyomov is the former Major of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia, participant of the second Russian-Chechen war. He has been involved into the Russian war against Ukraine since 2014. He has been an editor and author of Russian journal «Russkoe slovo» [Russian word].

For what achievements did Artyomov receive «The Order of Courage»? As leakage from hacked Rogozin’s messenger demonstrates, Rogozin awarded his bodyguards and assistants who were wounded or killed during celebration of his birthday in restaurant Shesh-Besh (leaked messages were published by Ukrainian broadcaster «Suspilne»). Here are their names: bodyguard Captain Mikhail Bridasov (posthumously), Sergeant Vladimir Guseinov (died in the hospital), Police Major Artyom Artyomov, privates Aleksandr Golovenkin and Artyom Melnikov. The latter has been the head of department in «Roskosmos» and an assistant of Rogozin. 

Охоронець Рогозіна Алєксандр Головєнькін (зліва)  та помічник Артьом Мєльніков їдуть до Москви після поранення у ресторані Шеш-Беш. Фото з листування Дмітрія Рогозіна/ Суспільне

Rogozin’s bodyguard Aleksandr Golovenkin (left) and assistant Artyom Melnikov go to Moscow after the rocket hit in restaurant Shesh-Besh. Photo from the messenger of Dmitrii Rogozin \ Suspilne

To promote and explain their awards in Russian mass media, Rogozin pretended that they were wounded when they rescued civilians from fires caused by Ukrainian shelling in Oleksandrivka village.

BARS and their commanders

Let us now look at the structure of combat wing of «Tsar Wolves» – «volunteer attack brigade» with the same name. By mistake, it is often called «private military company of Rogozin». However, half of four squads of BARS within «Tsar Wolves» are de facto controlled by so-called «Kuban Cossack Troops».

BARS-1 (self-title – «battalion named after Otaman Zakharii Chepiga») and BARS-11 («battalion Kuban») has been mainly staffed by Kuban Cossacks. They were combined into Cossack brigade «Kuban» in autumn 2022, together with special purpose Cossack squad BARS-16. Its commander has been Artur Batsev. Thus, BARS-1 and BARS-11 are parts of two «brigades» – «Kuban» and «Tsar Wolves» at the same time. Their founders use them for their personal promotion and «forget» about their double subordination.  

The material and technical supply of Cossack squads has been conducted by «Kuban Cossack Troops», state administration of Krasnodarsky krai, Kuban politicians and volunteers. For example, member of the Russian State Duma Ivan Demchenko delivered them winter clothing in October 2023, collected by businesses in Krasnodarsky krai. Besides 50 sets of clothes (it is interesting number for two «battalions»), squads received quadro-copters, quadro-cycles, generators and other «humanitarian aid». «Kuban Cossack Troops» recruits soldiers for their three squads of BARS and trains them in their centers, including the training ground of the Russian Southern Military District.

Thus, squads of BARS cannot be considered as Rogozin’s PMC. He succeeded in using this misperception for his personal political benefit. He has been elected as the «senator» from the occupied part of Zaporizhzhia region where «his» squads of BARS were fighting.

Squad BARS-1

The squad has been named after Zakharii Chepiga, Otaman (the chief) of Black Sea Cossack Troops under the Russian Empire. He has been co-founder of Russian city of Ekaterinodar (Krasnodar). The commander of BARS-1 has call sign «Korsar». In June 2023, he celebrated his 50th anniversary. We failed to identify him, though there are a lot of his pictures on the Internet. 

According to Ukrainian military analyst Kostyantyn Mashovets, this squad has fought near Tokmak within motorized infantry regiments of the 58th Russian Army. Mashovets wrote in the summer 2023, that squads of BARS-1, 3 and 14 suffered serious casualties during fighting with the Armed Forces of Ukraine between villages Robotyne and Verbove.

Commander of BARS-1 «Korsar» and Dmitrii Rogozin, April 2023. Photo: telegram channel of «Tsar Wolves»

In August 2023, Otaman of All-Russian Cossack Association Nikolai Doluda and Otaman of Kuban Cossack Troops Aleksandr Vlasov visited the squad in August 2023 and brought drones, anti-drone guns, radio stations and ammunition, with bulletproof vests and helmets.

Squad BARS-11

This squad is the most promoted in the Russian mass media. It is not surprising as «reservist»-Major «Rogozin-Sarmat with his assistants and bodyguards is «fighting» within its ranks. The first commander of the squad has been Batsev-Piton, now the head of «brigade» of «Tsar Wolves».

Since January 2023, the Russian soldier with call sign «Kuban» has been in command of the squad. We identified him. It is Aleksandr Vladimirovich Matvienko, born in 1970, resident of Krasnodarsky krai. Information about him is scarce. But there has been one funny story. In May 2021, he left a house in the Russian city of Tuapse and… disappeared. Volunteers from Russian group «Liza Alert» found him alive only after several weeks.  

Алєксандр Матвієнко, позивний “Кубань”, командир 

Aleksandr Matvienko, call sign «Kuban», commander of BARS-11 in January – October 2023. Photo: telegram channel of Rogozin

Recently, as Dmitrii Rogozin reported, Matvienko-Kuban «took a short leave to visit his family» and would come back soon. The new commander of battalion has been already appointed. It is «colonel with call sign Yamaha».

It has been easy to identify him. On April 16, 2023, Rogozin posted video with the following text: «Combat officer, Colonel Sergei Anatolievich Shevchenko (call sign «Yamaha»), fighter of our volunteer attack battalion «Tsar Wolves», reads his poem about killed soldiers».  

Сєргєй Шевченко (Ямаха), боєць БАРС-1, квітень 2023,  та полковник Росгвардии Шевченко, жовтень 2020. Фото скрін відео з соцмереж 

«Yamaha», fighter of BARS-1, April 2023 and Colonel of the Russian Guard Sergei Shevchenko, October 2020. Screen of video from social media

«Combat officer» Shevchenko served in the Russian Guard. We found video where he greeted with birthday and gave memory award to Artus Chilingarov, renowned Russian scholar –oceanologist, academician, member of the Russian State Duma and member of the Higher Council of political party «United Russia». He was titled as the Colonel of the Russian Guard in the video. The video was recorded in the Museum of legendary traveler Yurii Senkevich in Moscow.

In a month, Colonel of the Russian Guard Sergei Shevchenko participated in the scientific conference about the Northern Sea Route, opened by Chilingarov, with the report «How the Russian Guard secures safety of navigation and infrastructural objects along the Northern Sea Route and on territories of the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation».

It is unknown why Colonel Shevchenko lost his position in the Russian capital and became BARS reservist. But it is clear that it has been kind of punishment for him.

While fighting near Tokmak, BARS-11 lost a number of figures known since the Russian occupation of Donbas and Crimea in 2014. In August 2023, Aleksandr Anatolyevich Yuvitsa (call sign «Papa»), deputy commander of the squad, was killed. He has been Otaman of Nebuzky Cossack association and a member of local council. He participated in the occupation of Crimea and was awarded the medal «For the return of Crimea».

In October 2023, «Cossack Babai» Aleksandr Mozhaev, dubious figure with criminal past, was also killed by Ukrainian defendants. Russian propagandist media called him «symbol of the Russian Spring in Donbas».

As Cossack battalion «Kuban», BARS-11 has been recently praised by the Russian Minister of Defense. Its scope of activity expanded. «Corps of drone instructors» was set up on the basis of the squad.  It trains soldiers of Cossack units who concluded contracts with the Russian Ministry of Defense. They are officially supported by the Russian General Staff. The training center is located on the testing ground of the Russian Southern Military district. 

міністр Сєргєй Шойгу відвідує навчальний центр опернаторів БПЛА загону БАРС-11 на полігоні ПВО, жовтень 2023, Фото Звезда

Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu visits training center of drone operators of BARS-11 at the testing ground of the Russian Southern Military district, October 2023. Photo: Zvezda

Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu visited the center on October 4, 2023. Artur Batsev-Piton, commander of «brigade «Kuban», explained the Minister how the center worked. Shoigu approved its activity and said that each soldier should know how to operate the drone, «like Kalashnikov rifle».

It is remarkable that official media reports about this visit did not mention «Tsar Wolves» at all. As it has been reported, Shoigu and Rogozin hated each other.

29 years old Kuban Cossack Aleksandr Grigorievich Chernyavski (call sign «Focus») has been the head of «Corps of drone instructors». Now he gives interviews only with his face covered by balaclava and he is presented only by his call sign. In accordance with his biography, he studied in the «University of Culture» and worked as operator and director of movies (he used drones for making movies).

Earlier volunteer community OsintBees identified Chernyavski-«Focus» as an administrator of telegram channel of the «Corps of instructors» but his role is indeed far more important. He represents «Corps» at various public events and gives interviews. Russian state TV Company of Krasnodarski krai made TV broadcast about him «Flying BARS». 

Aleksandr Chernyavski during the shooting of movie «Plavni», 2019, and commander of «Corps of drone instructors» with call sign «Focus», 2023. Photo: social media

Алєксандр Чєрнявскій

His father Grigorii Viktorovich Chernyavski (call sign «Ded», «Grandfather») and third cousin with call sign «Mekhan» have also served in BARS-11.

Chernyavski-father has been Otaman of rural Cossack association «Garkushin kordon» (Krupskaya village in Krasnoarmeiski raion of Krasnodarski krai) since April 2022. His compatriot monk Nikifor (Volnyanski), the priest of local church of Saint Trinity, also serves in BARS-11 as deputy commander «on educational work». He told that senior son of Chernyavski, Kirill, would like to fight and kill Ukrainians but his father did not permit as Kirill had four children. 

Волонтерська спільнота OsintBees раніше ідентифікували “Фокуса” як адміністратора тг-каналу, проте його роль у цьому підрозділі значно вища.  

It is interesting that Grigorii Chernyavski has been individual entrepreneur with funerals as main business profile since 2009. So, he gets profit from deaths of his compatriots fighting Ukraine.

The squad of BARS-3

The self-title of this squad is «Rodina» [Motherland]. It is the name of the Russian political party, once headed by Dmitrii Rogozin. The party became his springboard for the Russian State Duma and Russian politics.

The commander of the squad is Aleksei Vladimirovich Tarasov (call sign «Dyadka»), born in 1970 in Totskoe-2 village in Orenburg region. In 2002, he graduated from Chelyabinsk tank institute. In 2018, he ran for the village council as unemployed person.

Tarasov has commanded BARS-1 in the summer of 2022. In March 2023, he was «ordered to create» assault squad «Storm» to break the defense of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. But he was presented by Rogozin as the commander of BARS-3 in June 2023. It seems there were serious problems with the commanders of the squad at that time. As Rogozin said, «I will not describe them but I hope that former commander will be imprisoned… though, I would shoot him under the martial law».  

Алєксєй Тарасов, позивний Дядька, командир загону БАРС-3. Фото: ТГ-канал РОГОЗИН

Aleksei Tarasov, call sign «Dyadka», the commander of BARS-3. Photo: telegram channel of Rogozin

Current leader of political party «Rodina» and member of the Russian State Duma Aleksei Zhuravlyov often visits BARS-3. He makes his photos and videos in trenches, surrounded by soldiers. He has also used weapons.

Zhuravlyov has been trained by deputy commander of the squad Konstantin Timofeevich Maslov, call sign «Komati». He was born in Severomorsk, studied in Volgodonsk. He has fought against Ukraine in Donbas since 2014. In 2021, he moved with his family to Sevastopol.

Maslov trained new recruits and administered telegram channel of BARS-3. He has been killed near Orikhiv at the end of July 2023.

Константін Маслов (Коматі) вчить депутата Держдуми РФ Алєксєя Журавльова стріляти з РГП. Скрін відео: тг-канал Журавльова

Konstantin Maslov (Komati) trains member of the Russian State Duma Aleksei Zhuravlyov to shoot. Screen of video: telegram channel of Zhuravlyov


Unlike other squads, BARS-10 does not have its self-title as volunteer battalion. Its commander is Ivan Sergeevich Ogolenko (call sign «Saturn»), resident of Stavropol krai.

He has been the Captain of the Russian road police. In 2019, he promised a businessman not to hinder his transportation for a bribe of 50 thousand Rubles. He was sentenced to 3,5 years of imprisonment and penalty of 100 thousand Rubles. As it follows from the court decision, Ogolenko fought in Northern Caucasus and received a medal as participant of Russian wars in Caucasus in 1994-2004 and an award «General Ermolov» for «securing public safety in a zone of Ossetian-Ingush conflict».

It seems that Ogolenko should have been imprisoned by the time of the Russian full scale invasion into Ukraine. He could get to the front either under conditional early parole or under mobilization of prisoners.   

Іван Оголєнко (Сатурн) , командир БАРС-10 та «сєнатор» Дмітрій Рогозін, 2023 р. Фото:тг-канал РОГОЗИН

Ivan Ogolenko («Saturn»), commander of BARS-10, and «senator» Dmitrii Rogozin, 2023. Photo: telegram channel of Rogozin

Dmitrii Rogozin reported about another unit of «Tsar Wolves» several months ago. He called it «electronic special forces «Archangel». It has been about IT specialists, the use of neuronetworks etc.

Russian mass media reported about flying grenade launcher and promised to supply it to all squads of BARS. However, there has been no news about it after four months. There has been also no news about large scale production of innovative drones tested at the military and technological center «Tsar Wolves».

Aleksei Rogozin argued that private designers did not understand how to test their drones and did not know how to launch large scale production…

Rogozin-junior also supervised another project called «People’s translation». Project volunteers have translated from … Ukrainian to Russian instructions and statutes of the Armed Forces of Ukraine during one year! Translated versions are distributed through telegram channels, online catalogues, website…

Now Rogozin-junior raises funds for the translation of US Army Field Manuals from English. As he reported, they would focus on materials about protection from drones, the work of air defense, reconnaissance and intelligence, cyber-operations etc.