Several troops who speak Nepali are shown in geolocated video training at a Russian military base.

At least eight of the TikTok accounts Bellingcat came across seem to be run by Nepali males who display their experience in a particular branch of the Russian military.

The subject was initially covered by Nepali journalist Birat Anupam for NepalPress. He looked at social media posts made by alleged recruiters and talked with several recruits about joining the Russian military.

Bellingcat was able to geolocate video shot at a station in the Belarusian city of Baranavichy as well as the Avangard military facility, which is west of Moscow.

But who are these young guys who are caught in the midst of the worst battle to affect Europe since the Second World War?

We looked into a user’s TikTok account who went by the name Kamalacharya9323 and claimed to be from Nepal.

In recent months, the account has posted a number of videos from a Russian training camp. They consume food at an army canteen in one video. In another, they groove to a music video while dancing in a hostel.

A second Russian recruit from Nepal reportedly enlisted to serve as a rifleman in a motor-rifle squad. The owner of this account shared many recordings from Russian training sessions along with a warning to potential recruits not to enlist in the Russian Army due to the danger.

A Russian-language sign-up agreement that was released in a video on the TikTok account and was also printed by NepalPress has a signature.

It verifies that the recruit is entitled to a one-time payment of 195,000 roubles (about US$2,300), citing a directive by Russian President Vladimir Putin dated September 2022.

Putin also approved a law expediting the naturalization of foreigners who serve in the Russian military forces in the same month.

Please be aware that Bellingcat has not yet uncovered any proof that these guys have engaged in live combat.

Bellingcat made an effort to get in touch with a number of the TikTok accounts, including Kamalacharya9323, to find out why they joined the Russian army and how they learned about it, but as of the time of publishing, had not heard back.

tracking down the soldiers
Recent posts on several accounts include Nepali guys practicing or taking photographs while dressed in military fatigues.

The Avangard center, a military facility in Russia’s Moscow Oblast Region around 50 kilometers west of Moscow (55.565474, 36.790801), seems to have been the location of several of these recordings.

It calls itself a “educational center for military patriotic youth” and was built in 2019.

On its website, Avangard states that it would introduce learners to five “military occupational specialties” and that it can hold 600 trainees concurrently. It states that it trains more than 30,000 apprentices annually.

Some of the facilities and sites surrounding the center are seen in a movie presenting the “Young Fighter Course” at the facility.

These seem to line up with the specifics of a few Nepali men’s TikTok videos, which in turn line up with satellite images of the Avangard location.

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