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Volunteer group fighting in Ukraine registers as a commercial enterprise in Russia

Russia’s Federal Tax Service has registered a group called the P. A. Sudoplatov Volunteer Battalion as a legal entity. BBC News Russian writes that this is the first instance of a company fighting in Ukraine officially registering as a commercial structure in Russia.

The publication found a post on HeadHunter, a Russian jobs website, in late January. The post was advertising vacancies for contract soldiers and offering a salary of 400,000 rubles (around 5,200 USD). It said volunteers would serve “in the territorial defense system.” The job ad was up for two days.

The P. A. Sudoplatov Volunteer Battalion was created in the occupied part of the Zaporizhzhia region a few days before the “referendum on joining Russia.” The Federal Tax Service’s register lists its founder as part of the “military-civilian administration of the Zaporizhzhia region.”

BBC News Russian notes that Russian law permits only the Ministry of Defense, and not regional authorities, to create armed formations. Similarly, only the defense ministry can contract with volunteers, and provide volunteer battalions with weapons, equipment, and payment.

Evgeny Balitsky, the acting “governor” of the annexed part of the Zaporizhzhia region, asked Russian president Vladimir Putin about the battalion during a March 7 meeting. Balitsky said it was necessary to “legitimize the story as soon as possible.”

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