How can I get notifications of new additions to the list?
Notifications are sent out in a number of ways:
Email: If you would like to be notified via email you can join the TC200 mailing list by clicking the "Get Notified" button that floats at the bottom right of each page on this site. The Free Tier is all you need.
Telegram: Telegram users can join this channel: https://t.me/topcargo200_tg
Reddit: Reddit users can join the official subreddit at https://reddit.com/r/cargo200
Twitter: Twitter users can follow our official account @TopCargo200_com
What does Cargo 200 mean?
Cargo 200 (Russian: Груз 200, Gruz dvésti) is a military code word used in the Soviet Union and the post-Soviet states referring to the transportation of military fatalities. Officially, the term Cargo 200 is military jargon to refer specifically to the corpses of soldiers contained in zinc-lined coffins for air transportation. Unofficially, Cargo 200 is used to refer to all bodies of the dead being transported away from the battlefield, and has also become slang for "Killed in Action".
The first appearance of Cargo 200 is unknown, except that it came into use in the mid-1980s during the Soviet–Afghan War. The main theory of the term's origin is the Ministry of Defense of the USSR Order No. 200, issued during the on October 8, 1984, coincidentally setting the standardized maximum weight for the air transportation of a deceased soldier's body at 200 kilograms (440 lbs). The term saw widespread use in the Soviet military by the late 1980s, spawning the related code words Cargo 300 for the transportation of wounded personnel, and Cargo 100 for the transportation of munitions.
Other Cargo codes:
- Cargo 100: ammunition
- Cargo 300: wounded
- Cargo 400: concussed (in shock) or captured
- Cargo 500: medicines
- Cargo 600: oversized cargo
- Cargo 700: cash or "loot"
- Cargo 800: "special" or chemical weapons
What is a Cargo ID and what is a Cargo Card?
Every individual on this list is issued a Cargo ID at the time we begin investigating their possible death. Put simply, a Cargo ID is just a unique number used to identify that individual quickly. It's a lot easier to track, say, and find "Cargo ID #150" than "Major Beslan Bachaev".
A Cargo Card is simply the page dedicated to that individual. This nomenclature arose back in the early days of this list when it was short enough to display all of the officers and their relevant details on a single page. Each officer had a small "card" on the page (similar to our current homepage), which could be found quickly by doing a search for their name or Cargo ID. There were no links, and details were limited, but you could see the entire list at a glance just by going to TopCargo200.com. As the list grew, changes had to be made, but the term Cargo Card stuck around, and now refers to the page dedicated to a given entry.
To locate a specific Cargo Card, if you have lost the link (or only recall the Cargo ID #) simply add the Cargo ID at the end of the URL. For example:
[Cargo ID #150] can be found at: TopCargo200.com/150
Why are there more Cargo ID #'s than Confirmed kills?
There are a few reasons for this, but it boils down to two main things: first, some people are on the list and given Cargo ID #'s but not counted towards senior officer kills (dishonorable mentions, oligarchs, milbloggers, etc.); second, sometimes we mess up and need to remove someone from the list. For the sake of full transparency and accountability, we never remove them from the site. Instead we tag them as "Corrected", which removes them from the senior officer counts.
To give you a bit more detail:
1) As mentioned above, Cargo IDs are issued when we start investigating an individual, not when they are confirmed. So we have several Cargo IDs that have been "under investigation" for some time, but are not on the public list. Either we have a partial (or no name), we aren't positive on their rank, or we're waiting to find further confirmation that they are actually dead.
2) Not everyone who gets a Cargo ID # is a senior officer. We include other notable kills or deaths. They are people who are either famous or have some sort of significance to the war effort, or Russian society. Because they are not senior officers, we don't include them in the officer statistics.
3) Sometimes we make a mistake. No one on the TC200 team can speak or read a word of Russian. And translation apps are not always reliable. Different apps can translate the same name in several different ways. "Sergei", for example, sometimes gets translated as "Serge", "Sergey", or "Sergay". With the sheer size of the list, we rely on database searches to see if someone already existed on the list. When the translation varies, it can cause inaccurate search results. This, of course can result in the creation of a duplicate card with a slightly different name. Once we discover the error, we set one of the cards as Corrected, but the Cargo ID can't be reused.
4) Sometimes we make a different mistake. Very rarely, we have sufficient information to feel confident confirming a kill, then several weeks later photos or video of them still alive pops up. Again, in the interest of transparency, we mark them as Corrected instead of removing them from the site. Colonel Alexander Eliseev [Cargo ID #432] is an excellent example of this. He was shot twice, at point blank range, with a sawed-off shotgun. We had video of his shooting, video of the aftermath, and Russian media reports claiming his death. It wasn't until months later that information came out that he actually managed to survive the shooting and made a full recovery.
How do you confirm these kills?
This is probably the question we get most often. It's tough to answer this in detail because the process varies so much between officers.
The easiest ones: There are several activists and journalists in Russia that physically visit graveyards and report on recent military graves. These are usually as easy as translating the name, identifying the rank from the image on the grave, and running some quick Google/Yandex searches to figure out their unit.
The easy ones: Various Russian and Ukrainian telegram channels tend to report on these sorts of deaths. They are usually reliable, but not what we consider enough for a full confirmation. In these instances we usually do much the same Google/Yandex searching as above until we're able to find enough sources that agree the deaths are real. Often this also involves finding their picture and unit information, as the primary sources don't usually mention them.
The hard ones: These are usually the reports from the Armed Forces of Ukraine, or one of the Ukrainian intel agencies. More often than not, they will simply say something akin to "we killed 3 Colonels in Mariupol today". We usually start this sort of search by figuring out what units are active in the region, and cross our fingers that we have collected information about that unit's command structure. If not, we have to look for any recent articles about those units and hope to get lucky finding an appropriate name we can dig on. If we still come up empty, we save the report into our database to "keep an eye out for any other info". Sometimes we get lucky in a week or two and a funeral announcement with the proper rank and unit is made. Sometimes not.
The hardest ones: Sometimes there is just a picture of a dead Russian officer wearing a Major's star on his shoulders. No name, no unit info, no date or location. These suck. It involves parsing out the EXIF data from the photo (if it exists) to get a timestamp and location where the photo was taken; trying to figure out what unit may have been in the right place at the right time; gathering as many pictures as we can from that unit (parade pictures, award ceremonies, graduations, etc.); then running facial recognition on the corpse (assuming the face is visible and in good enough condition) against those images. If we get a hit, we can try to find a name and proceed through all the steps above. If we get nothing from any of the steps above, it goes into the "keep an eye out for any other info" folder.