Anton Yelizarov, a convicted ex-soldier, is the commander of the Wagner Group mercenaries in Soledar, according to a report by the investigative outlet Dossier Center – a project launched by Russian opposition figure Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
On January 14, a video, allegedly filmed in Soledar, was posted on a Telegram channel owned by Wagner PMC head Yevgeny Prigozhin’s press service. In the video, Prigozhin talks about the capture of the town and presents an unnamed man standing nearby as the “commander of the capture of Soledar”. Prigozhin says that he is an experienced fighter who took the city “without babbling – in two weeks”. Meanwhile, battles for Soledar began back in the spring of 2022 and are still raging, according to Ukrainian reports.
According to the Dossier Center’s investigation, Yelizarov was born in 1981 in the Rostov region, graduated from the Ulyanovsk Guards Suvorov Military School in 1998 and from the Ryazan Higher Airborne Command School in 2003. He served in the 108th regiment of the 7th Guards Airborne Assault Division in Novorossiysk, where he commanded a company and a platoon. He was also a group commander in the 10th Separate Special Forces Brigade in Molkino. During his service, he took part in combat operations in the North Caucasus. In 2014, Yelizarov was accused of fraud related to his government-owned apartment, as he had provided false documents in an attempt to privatize it. A court sentenced him to three years of suspended imprisonment and a fine of 100 thousand roubles (approximately $1500). Yelizarov sued Russia’s Ministry of Defense for the apartment, but lost, eventually being evicted in 2016, the Dossier Center wrote.
Since 2016, Yelizarov has been listed as a member of the Wagner PMC with the call sign “Lotos” (“Lotus”) under number M-0136. As a mercenary, he fought in Syria, where he sustained a shrapnel wound to the thigh in 2017; he also worked in the Central African Republic as an instructor in 2018-2019, and commanded an assault unit in Libya in 2021. In September 2022, Yelizarov, along with Prigozhin and the governor of the Vologda region, appeared at the funeral of fellow Wagner mercenary Alexei Nagin. His awards – a gold star of a hero of Russia and two gold stars of a hero of the so-called “DPR” and “LPR” – can be clearly seen in the video.