Top Russian Spy Defects After Betraying Ring in U.S. - November, 2010

Finally it has been made public. Russia's Kommersant reported that there was indeed a traitor in the ranks of Russia's special services that betrayed the team of Russian "sleeper" agents working in the United States last summer. In the unwritten laws of the harsh and dark world of espionage, when an agent decides to defect to the other side he or she is expected not to betray former colleagues. An example of this is former KGB official Oleg Kalugin, who after having defected to the United States during the early 1990s, he spared no opportunity to emphatically claim that he had not given away other Soviet spies. As a result, although he is barred from entering the Russian Federation today, Oleg Kalugin is allowed to live a normal life in the United States. On the other hand, there is the case of turncoat Alexander Litvinenko. Not only did Litvinenko make public highly sensitive information about Russia's intelligence/internal security apparatus, he also worked actively against the Russian Federation as an agent for London and as a lackey to one of Britain's wealthiest criminals, Sir Boris Berezovsky.

Needless to say, not only was Litvinenko killed, his killers made sure to turn his death into a public spectacle. The morbid show of watching Litvinenko slowly and painfully wither away into oblivion was obviously orchestrated by his killers to discourage others from following his footsteps. What will now happen to this "Colonel Shcherbakov" is primarily dependent upon how seriously the FSB hierarchy deems his treasonous actions to be - or how well his new bosses in Washington are able to hide him. I believe that the news release by Kommersant is somehow connected to what recently happened to one of its main journalists. Executives in the privately owned "opposition" controlled news agency in question clearly wanted to take a shot at and embarrass Russia's secret services, those suspected of having one of their main journalist, Oleg Kashin, beaten to the verge of death. It worked, Kommersant did get its revenge, at least superficially, at least temporarily. The news about a high ranking double agent in the ranks of Russia's special services is a major embarrassment for Moscow, as well as it being a serious setback for Russia's spy agencies.

Below are several articles that will help the reader put all this into better perspective. During the summer, Oleg Kalugin, the high ranking KGB defector from the early 1990s, took the opportunity to take a few jabs at his former bosses in Moscow. Moreover, a little piece about the ever mysterious Viktor Boot. With obvious connections to Russian intelligence, Victor Boot is one of the most fascinating characters to have appeared in the press in recent times. He has even inspired a Hollywood film. Finally, the article found at the very bottom of this page is an old propaganda piece. Regardless of its obvious anti-Moscow propaganda value, the article in question is nevertheless a fascinating look inside the dangerous world of Russian special forces and their decades long tradition of manipulating/exploiting "operatives" and "assets" across the globe. While the featured commentary by Viktor Suvorov refers to the time of the Soviet Union, we must remember that today's security/intelligence apparatus of the Russian Federation is the direct successor of its Soviet counterpart. Having suffered severe cutbacks during the calamitous Yeltsin years, Russia's secret services have been making a steady comeback during the past ten years.

The information about the Kremlin's relations with "terrorist" groups will interest many readers in this day in age. We must bare in mind, however, that the dark nature of special services is not exclusive to Russia. It is a well known fact that American, British, Israeli and Pakistani intelligence services also engage in gathering, training, organizing and utilizing "terrorists" cells throughout the world towards political purposes. Again, despite it being an anti-Moscow propaganda piece, the kind of insider information provided by Viktor Suvorov will help the reader better understand how special services agencies operate - and it also places historic terrorist events/operations such as the ones that occurred in the United States on September 11, 2001 and the one in Armenia on October 27, 1999 in a different more troubling light.

In my humble opinion, there are no "terror" groups in existence today, Islamic or otherwise, that are not supported and/or funded by one major world power or another. The world in general, the Middle East and Central Asia in particular, is fully stocked with disgruntled, violent and functionally illiterate men and women that have the full potential to become any man's terrorist. All it takes is a sophisticated group of well funded, well trained specialists to recruit, organize, train and... utilize! With the following, I present you with a little insight into the world of modern espionage. Below are several reports that have appeared in the controlled press that are worth reading between the lines.



Top Russian Spy Defects After Betraying Ring in U.S.

Spy Saga: Double agent who sold out Anna Chapman & Co 'uncovered' (RT video):

The head of Russia's deep cover U.S. spying operations has betrayed the network and defected, a Russian paper said on Thursday, potentially giving the West one of its biggest intelligence coups since the end of the Cold War. The newspaper, Kommersant, identified the man as Colonel Shcherbakov and said he was responsible for unmasking a Russian spy ring in the United States in June whose arrests humiliated Moscow and clouded a "reset" in ties with Washington. The betrayal would make Shcherbakov one of the most senior turncoats since the fall of the Soviet Union and could have consequences for Russia's proud Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) and its chief, former Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov.

Kommersant said Shcherbakov, whose first name it did not give, had been responsible for "illegal spying" in the United States, meaning spies operating under deep cover without diplomatic immunity. Confirming Kommersant's report was accurate, Gennady Gudkov, deputy chairman of the Russian parliament's security committee, said it was a major failure by Russian intelligence and a success for the United States. "It is a major blow to the image of the Russian intelligence services," he told Reuters. The paper said Shcherbakov had left Russia days before U.S. authorities announced the spy ring arrests on June 28 and quoted a Kremlin official as saying a Russian hit squad was probably already planning to kill him. "We know who he is and where he is," the unidentified official was quoted as saying. "Do not doubt that a Mercader has been sent after him already." Ramon Mercader was the Russian agent who murdered exiled Bolshevik Leon Trotsky with an ice axe in Mexico in 1940.


All 10 spies arrested in the United States pleaded guilty and were deported to Russia in a swap less than two weeks later. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, himself a former KGB spy, greeted them as heroes. He said traitors came to a bad end, and the informer would be left to the mercy of his own kind. "The special services live by their own laws and everyone knows what these laws are," he said shortly after the swap. Despite Moscow's tough talk, the revelation could damage the reputation of the SVR. Former U.S. intelligence officer Mark Stout said: "Recruiting a Russian officer who was actually in charge of so-called 'illegal operations' in the U.S. is about as big a counter-espionage success as U.S. intelligence can hope to get." Kommersant quoted an unidentified source as saying Fradkov could be sacked and the SVR folded into the powerful Federal Security Service (FSB), the main successor of the Soviet-era


"The damage inflicted by Shcherbakov is so enormous that a special commission should be created to analyze the reasons which allowed this complete failure to happen," Gudkov said, although he cautioned that it was too early to decide whether the SVR should be merged into the FSB. Putin, who served a stint as FSB chief during his rise to power, has installed many allies from his KGB days in top government posts and former members of the security services are considered to wield a great deal of power inside the Kremlin. Foreign Intelligence Service spokesman Sergei Ivanov declined to comment on the Kommersant report.

U.S. authorities said in June the Russian spy ring had been operating in the United States for 10 years, its members adopting false identities and blending in while they tried to gather intelligence for Moscow. Espionage historian Phillip Knightley said the report should be viewed in the context of the smoke and mirror world of Moscow's spy agencies. "How do we know it is not a plant to draw Western attention away from the real betrayer? Or just to sow confusion in Western spy services?" Knightley said. (Additional reporting by William Maclean in London; Writing by Thomas Grove and Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Andrew Dobbie)


Defector Aided in Thwarting Russian Spies, Article Says

A Russian newspaper reported Thursday that a senior official in Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service had provided the information that enabled the United States to break up a ring of Russian sleeper spies in June. The turncoat official, identified only as Colonel Shcherbakov, was said to have defected to the United States just before the arrests and was now being tracked by a Russian assassination squad, according to the newspaper, Kommersant, considered one of Russia’s most authoritative. According to the article, Colonel Shcherbakov led the branch of the Foreign Intelligence Service that oversees longtime agents working without diplomatic cover in the United States, including those who were detained in June.

A spokeswoman for the C.I.A., Paula Weiss, said the agency had no comment on the Kommersant article. But a senior Russian lawmaker with close ties to the security services, Gennadi V. Gudkov, confirmed the thrust of the article. “I had known this from my former colleagues long before today’s article in Kommersant,” Mr. Gudkov said in an interview with the Interfax news agency. “We can all reasonably say that Directorate S, whose U.S. division was led by Shcherbakov, has never known such a failure,” he said. “This directorate is the holy of holies in the intelligence business, and it works on producing deep-cover agents, whose training and legalization sometimes takes decades.” The Foreign Intelligence Service declined to comment on the Kommersant article.

But the betrayal, if confirmed, would amount to a significant intelligence coup for the United States and an embarrassment for the Foreign Intelligence Service, which is led by Mikhail Y. Fradkov, who was prime minister when Vladimir V. Putin was president. The article suggested that Russian officials had repeatedly failed to pick up on clues that Colonel Shcherbakov was working for the Americans. It said his son had resigned from a job with the Russian drug control agency and flown to the United States just before the spy ring was unmasked. The colonel was also said to have a daughter who is a long-term resident of the United States.

Some details in the Kommersant article may strike intelligence experts as implausible. For example, the newspaper said American interrogators were so harsh with the spy suspect known as Juan Lazaro, formerly Mikhail Vasenkov, that they broke three of his ribs and his leg. But neither Mr. Lazaro’s American lawyer nor his wife, who was also arrested, reported that he had suffered such injuries while in custody. The newspaper reported that the spies were arrested after American law enforcement officials feared that the Russians would realize that they had a collaborator in their midst. The 10 spies included many who had been secretly working for years in the United States. They were returned to Russia in July in a swap that sent four Russians to the West. After their arrest, Mr. Putin, now prime minister, assailed the “treachery” that led to their discovery, warning that “traitors always meet bad ends.”

Last month, President Dmitri A. Medvedev awarded the spies government honors in a private ceremony. Kommersant said Russian agents were seeking Colonel Shcherbakov. “We know who he is and where he is,” a Kremlin official was quoted as saying. “Do not doubt that a Mercader has already been sent to get him.” That was a reference to Ramón Mercader, the Spanish Communist sent by Stalin to kill Leon Trotsky in Mexico in 1940. “You would not envy the fate of such a person,” the Kremlin official said, indicating that such defectors spent the rest of their lives in fear of assassins.


Former KGB General Kalugin Calls U.S.-Russia Spy Saga 'A Farce'

A New York newspaper shows one of the Russians arrested for attempted espionage.

Oleg Kalugin headed overseas counterintelligence operations for many years at Russia's KGB secret services, where he oversaw operatives including future Russian President and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. As Kalugin became a vocal critic of the Soviet system during its final years, he was demoted and eventually forced to retire from the KGB in 1990. A Moscow court sentenced him in absentia to 15 years in jail for treason in 2002. Kalugin today remains a fierce critic of Prime Minister Putin, whom he has called a "war criminal." He currently works for CI Centre, a counterintelligence consulting and training firm outside of Washington, D.C. He spoke to RFE/RL's Nikola Krastev about his KGB career and the recent spy scandal in which 10 alleged Russian agents were expelled from the United States.

RFE/RL: In recent years, Russia has sought to nurture the patriotic feelings of the millions of Russians living abroad. Do you see this trend as a continuation of the KGB's efforts to recruit Soviet emigrants during your time with the organization, between 1956 and 1990?

Oleg Kalugin: Yes, these activities have now been fully restored. When the Soviet Union was collapsing, these activities shrank because so many people were emigrating. Besides, back then we had solid sources in U.S. and European intelligence services. So at that time, activities tied to emigrants were no longer a priority. But as Russia rose from its knees, this issue resurfaced. This whole story with the so-called 10 or 12 sources shows that interest in Russians living abroad is mounting in high circles. I have to say that the Russian Orthodox Church always played a significant role in this process, and it is likely to play an even greater role today. The U.S.S.R was based on three pillars: the Communist Party, the KGB, and the military-industrial complex. Russia's current system is based on the KGB at the head of the government, on the Russian Orthodox Church as a former part of KGB agencies among the clergy, and on Russian business. Many former KGB officers are now doing business, either laundering money or participating in intelligence operations.

RFE/RL: What are your thoughts on the recent spy scandal between Russia and the United States?

Kalugin: Honestly, it made me laugh. It all seemed so laughable -- an intelligence farce. Financing 10 or 12 people who had no direct access to state secrets and hoping they would one day be able to infiltrate the State Department or another governmental institution is such a waste of time, money, and human resources. That's my opinion on the "spy saga" that unfolded recently. In my opinion, it ended very successfully with the swap of the so-called Russian spies with a relatively small group of real American spies, of people who at any rate provided valuable information to the United States and Britain. The exchange was a failure in the sense that Russia freed people who really were spies -- this was not an invention.

RFE/RL: In your time at the KGB, were the people there sincere, true believers in the communist ideal?

Kalugin: These formed the vast majority of people employed by the KGB. The selection process was very strict -- biographical data, relatives, connections -- and candidates also were tested on their integrity, on their devotion to the communist ideology, on their awareness of their duty, on possible risks and sacrifices of their freedom and even of their lives. The selection process was very thorough. Only after the dissolution of the Soviet Union did the population become demoralized, including within the Communist Party and the KGB. These institutions were greatly affected by the Soviet collapse. But later, as Russia underwent an economic revival, intelligence and security agencies again became more attractive. But two elements have nonetheless disappeared. In the past, intelligence agents had the right to travel abroad [and] they had good salaries and benefits. Today in Russia, anyone can travel abroad and earn money by creating a company or a joint venture with foreign capital. The secret services now attract many people who are romantic by nature, who have read thrillers and seen many movies dedicated to the heroic deeds of the Soviet agents. There are many people like that, and they are decent people. But with time, the romance fades away and not all are able to adapt to the reality of the secret services. There is a second category of people who simply prefer to serve in the intelligence services than in the Russian military. Service in the Russian Army frightens people rather than attracting them.

RFE/RL: Western secret services have been criticized for abandoning their foreign agents -- paying them handsome rewards, relocating them, and then forgetting about their existence. How did you handle such cases during your KGB career?

Kalugin: Yes, that's right. When I was working in Moscow, I supervised former British agents for the Soviet Union such as George Blake and Kim Philby. When I met them for the first time, they had successfully evaded justice and already lived in Moscow. They lived relatively comfortably but both of them felt quite lonely. Philby was almost an alcoholic, even though he was married -- we had found him a good woman. Then I decided to change the lives of these people. With the consent of [KGB head Yury] Andropov I organized a speech by Philby to the KGB agents in the KGB headquarters' central hall. There were more than 800 people. Then he started teaching English and then helped us prepare fake British documents. As a native speaker he would make sure there were no grammar mistakes in the fake British and U.S. documents that we were distributing around the world. In short, these people returned to life and Philby stopped drinking.

RFE/RL: Was there an established procedure within the KGB to deal with defectors who later changed their mind and wanted to return?

Kalugin: We investigated such cases -- for example, there was a certain [Anatoly] Chebotaryov, who defected to Belgium and returned six months later. We conducted a thorough investigation of his case. Normally, he would have received a minimum of 15 years in prison, but I convinced the KGB leadership to give him a suspended sentence, which he served outside Moscow. We even found him a job in the Ryazan region. This was possible and Andropov accepted my recommendation because this Chebotaryov told us everything he knew. He was sincere; we had no reason to distrust what he was telling us. It happens that sometimes when people go astray, they become obsessed with certain ideas, thoughts. They defect but then come back. So, this is one of those cases when a defected agent returned and nothing happened to him.

RFE/RL: Was infiltrating Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty a high priority in the KGB counterintelligence operations in the 1970s and 1980s?

Kalugin: In the counterintelligence department of the KGB, which I headed, there was a special unit dedicated to [Soviet] emigrants, to their press, their radio stations. Because RFE/RL was at first financed by the CIA, it was naturally an intelligence priority. Older emigrant newspapers and magazines were also infiltration targets but of lesser priority.

We had several informants in RFE/RL's Russian Service. The most famous was Oleg Tumanov [the former director of the Russian Service of Radio Liberty].


Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask

Boris Volodarsky was trained as an officer in the GRU Spetsnaz, the Soviet military's intelligence arm. When I met him while on book research in London in 2007, he was writing The KGB's Poison Factory, his own book on Moscow's fascination with murder-by-poison. With his encyclopedic knowledge and understanding of the KGB and its history, he is finishing a new book called The Orlov KGB File. I asked whether Volodarsky would reply to a few questions about last week's arrest of 10 Russian "illegals," sleeper agents planted without diplomatic cover, in the United States. His answers after the jump:

What would you say is most misunderstood about the illegals indicted in the U.S.?

As most people, including some journalists who write long articles commenting on the arrests, have no knowledge of the Russian intelligence tradecraft or the intelligence history in general, the activities of the members of this group seem a bizarre collection of strange actions looking like a bad movie about the Russkies. But many things shown even in bad movies are unfortunately true: Yes, the Russians like to wear fur hats, drink vodka, eat caviar, take pretty girls to the sauna. And, apart from some modern innovations like ad hoc networks, burst transmissions and steganography, the old proven tradecraft is pretty much the same. It is good and it normally works well (except in cases, when somebody is already being shadowed - then nothing works).

The public and writers alike do not really realise that this is NOT a film -- a very large group of very experienced FBI agents and watchers spent a very considerable sum of taxpayers' money and plenty of time to uncover a REAL group of the Russian undercover operators who brazenly operated in the United States, as they had been absolutely sure that no one would ever catch them because their education, training, intelligence tradition, and the belief that the wealth of the country behind them is much superior than the FBI.

They forgot that the FBI of 2010 is much different from the Bureau of the 1950s. All 11 accused (with Christopher Metsos -- without doubt a Directorate S officer -- missing) are trained professionals whose task was to penetrate American society. It is the first time that such a large group of illegals has been uncovered. Normally, there have been one or a maximum of two, while I have on record a great number of documented illegal operations in the U.S. for at least the last 80 years. It must be added that very few of them like Fisher/Abel and Molody/Lonsdale were successful. But we probably know only about 50 percent of the operations that were mounted and the people deployed.

Is it possible that this is simply a rogue operation by someone in Moscow who, as some commentators have suggested, misunderstand what type of information is openly available? In other words, are illegals a relic, or is there real continuing value to be gained by illegals today?

No way it is a rogue operation. It took a lot of time, effort and money, and all was done by the book. It is always done this way. Again, I can list several dozen examples when, after training, the Soviet illegals were sent first to Europe, then almost always to Canada, and then relocated to the U.S. Concerning the information. First of all, the illegals are not here to collect intelligence. Their role is to control important agents already recruited in the government structures, those who have access to secret information (CIA, FBI, other intelligence services, military, scientists, R&D people, IT specialists, etc), or they may exert influence (on journalists or politicians).

The Russian foreign intelligence service (SVR) has ALL information that is available from open sources. This has always been the case, but it is never enough. What Russian intelligence in striving to get is secret information (political, economic, industrial, military, etc) and have a chance to influence decision-making and public opinion in favor of Russia. This is why agents are recruited or penetrated into sensitive or politically important targets.

The role of illegals is threefold: to act as cut-outs between important sources and the Center (directly or via the SVR station); to serve as talent-spotters finding potential candidates for further intelligence cultivation and possible recruitment (a rather long and complex process, where the illegals only act at its early stage); and to establish the right contacts that would allow other intelligence operators (members of the SVR station) or the Center (visiting intelligence officers under different covers, journalists, diplomats or scientists tasked by the SVR) to get intelligence information and/or receive favors that the Center is interested in. The illegals also have a number of technical tasks like renting accommodations that could be used as safe houses, finding places for dead drops, planning hit operations like assassinations that are also carried out by illegals (but from a different department of the same directorate).

They also collect sample documents that could be used in other covert operations and update Moscow about some standard proceedings (buying a house, getting a job, registering a company, and so on). The illegals are no relic, they have been always used full scale. The last known case was in Canada when ‘Paul William Hampel' was arrested in the middle of the Alexander Litvinenko case (November 2006). As I seek to prove in The KGB Poison Factory, the Litvinenko operation itself was the work of a Russian illegal. Certainly, the illegals are used in other countries with difficult counterintelligence environments like Britain, for example, but rarely in "soft" countries like Austria or Finland.

Illegals could be used for corporate and commercial penetration as much as government or military penetration, correct?

As mentioned above, very seldom, as this is normally not their task. But in many cases their children, born American citizens, are prepared for penetrations. In this group only Mikhail Semenko seems to have made attempts to penetrate sensitive institutions by trying to get a job there (the American Foreign Policy Council, for example). But in one case, a Soviet illegal served as the Costa Rican ambassador to Italy. His detailed story is in The Orlov KGB File, my next book. In principle, corporate and commercial penetration by the illegals is possible -- in the 1960s "Rudi Herrmann" was tasked to penetrate the Hudson Institute.

Illegals could also be present in other nations, just like in the Cold War?

Certainly, and other nationals, not only the Russians, can be used. There are many examples, especially with East Germans.

What is your sense of why they were arrested at this time?

Two obvious reasons: first of all, Anna Kuschenko-Chapman sensed that she was dealing with an undercover FBI agent, and called her controller from the Russian UN mission; second, ‘Richard Murphy' was going to leave for Moscow on Sunday with, some believe, important intelligence.

The Obama administration is on "reset" with Russia. President Medvedev had just left the U.S. Is there a discordant note here?

Not at all. The Security Service works according to the operational situation disregarding what's going on in the White House and what the President thinks about it.

Anna Chapman has attracted the most public attention of all the accused. Is she a serious spy?

Everything shows that Anna Vasilievna Kuschenko started to collaborate with the SVR shortly after she finished secondary school at the age of 16 in 1998 and before she entered the university. Her father is a KGB-SVR officer, possibly from Line N (illegal support), so this would be a normal thing. After a year, she enrolled in a course at the People's Friendship University of Moscow, which is the alma mater of many Soviet and Russian intelligence officers and agents. During her second year, in 2001, she went to London (extremely unusual) and quickly picked up a naïve young Englishman in a disco. She took him to bed on their second meeting, and by his and another account of her use of sex toys seems to have been specifically trained in the art of love. She told him how much she loved him, burst into tears when leaving for Moscow and quickly arranged an invitation, so he came and they were married in March 2002 without the usual formalities.

After getting settled in London (still being a full-time student in Moscow), she worked in several places for a short time and on small jobs, serving as a personal assistant in a hedge fund, and as a secretary in a private jet company. She dumped her husband after three years, having moved in with a young French playboy who took her to expensive private clubs in London, where she got the right contacts. He also advised her to open an Internet real estate company. In 2004, she miraculously graduated from the university (without studying there and still living in London), returned to Moscow in 2007, opened such an Internet company there, then opened a similar company in New York in February 2010, using $1 million she received from a Kremlin-backed investment fund. Almost immediately she started to send reports to her New York controller using her laptop. It is a big and interesting story worth writing much more.


An Arms Sales Suspect, Bargaining With Secrets

Daniel Estulin: Bout just a pawn, endgame - to get at Russia:

Accused of a 15-year run as one of the world’s biggest arms traffickers, Viktor Bout is thought to be a consummate deal maker. Now his future may hang on whether he can strike one last bargain: trading what American officials believe is his vast insider’s knowledge of global criminal networks in exchange for not spending the rest of his life in a federal prison. Justice Department officials were relieved on Aug. 20 when a Thai appeals court approved the extradition of Mr. Bout (pronounced boot), a Russian, from Bangkok, where he has been incarcerated since 2008. But they are wary of declaring victory in a long diplomatic wrangle with Russia until Mr. Bout actually arrives to face charges in Manhattan, a development that could be days or weeks away. Immersed since the early 1990s in the dark side of globalization, Mr. Bout has mastered the trade and the transport that fuel drug cartels, terrorism networks and insurgent movements from Colombia to Afghanistan, according to former officials who tracked him. And he is believed to understand the murky intersection of Russian military, intelligence and organized crime.

“I think Viktor Bout has a great deal of information that this country and other countries would like to have,” said Michael A. Braun, chief of operations at the Drug Enforcement Administration from 2005 to 2008, when the agency was engineering the sting operation that led to Mr. Bout’s arrest in Bangkok two years ago. “It’s a question of whether he sees his wife and kid again someday, after 10 or 15 or 20 years,” said Mr. Braun, now with Spectre Group International, a private security firm. “I think there’s potential for a deal.” Mr. Bout, who has lost about 70 pounds while imprisoned in Thailand, has shown no inclination to cooperate with investigators. In interviews, he has portrayed himself as an honest businessman who would transport whatever he was paid to carry, whether disaster relief supplies or attack helicopters. On his Web site he calls himself “a born salesman with undying love for aviation and eternal drive to succeed.”

He has labeled as “ridiculous” American charges that he agreed to sell shoulder-fired missiles to D.E.A. agents posing as members of a Colombian leftist guerrilla group known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. “I have never traded in weapons,” he said in a statement released Friday. His wife, Alla, who has visited him in Bangkok with their teenage daughter, Elizabeth, has told reporters he traveled to South America “for tango lessons.” But if the bravado falters when Mr. Bout faces prosecutors in New York, he has plenty to tell, said Douglas Farah, co-author of a 2007 book about him, “Merchant of Death.” “He knows a great deal about how weapons reach the Taliban, and how they get to militants in Somalia and Yemen,” Mr. Farah said. “He knows a lot about Russian intelligence as it’s been restructured under Putin,” he added, referring to Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian prime minister.

Rumors in Bangkok have suggested that the Russians and the Americans engaged in a bidding war over the American extradition request, with Russia offering Thailand cut-rate oil and Americans offering military hardware. Both sides have denied such bargaining. Thai officials say they must process a second United States request for extradition on a separate indictment for money laundering before Mr. Bout can be put aboard the American jet that arrived last week to pick him up. The legend of Mr. Bout, 43, a former Soviet Air Force officer and gifted linguist who speaks English, French, Arabic and Portuguese, may have outgrown even the facts of his career, the basis for the 2005 movie “Lord of War.” Operating a web of companies, at times calling himself Viktor Bulakin, Vadim Aminov or other pseudonyms, he rose in the global arms underworld after the Soviet collapse freed aging aircraft and huge weapons supplies.

“What you have in Viktor Bout is a prime figure in the globalization of crime,” said Louise I. Shelley, director of the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center at George Mason University. “He epitomizes the new type of organized crime, in which the person is educated, has international ties and operates with the support of the state.”

By the mid-1990s, Mr. Bout’s growing private air force had come to the attention of Western intelligence agencies. By 2000, when Lee S. Wolosky became director for transnational threats at the National Security Council under President Bill Clinton, Mr. Bout’s web of companies was turning up in country after country, Mr. Wolosky said. “My colleagues who worked on Africa noticed that he was popping up in each conflict they were trying to resolve: Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola,” said Mr. Wolosky, now a lawyer in New York. “He had a logistics capability that was matched by very few nations.” Mr. Bout developed ties with such notorious figures Charles Taylor of Liberia, bedded down next to his plane in African war zones and sometimes took payment in diamonds, bringing his own gemologist to assess the stones. His arms escalated the toll of the fighting. “Wars went from machetes and antique rifles to A.K.’s with unlimited ammunition,” Mr. Farah said.

Former American officials say they worked on a plan to grab the arms dealer and deliver him to either Belgium or South Africa to face criminal charges, a procedure known as “rendition to justice.” Before they could act, the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks made Mr. Bout a lower priority. Mr. Wolosky said he and his colleagues were astonished to learn from later news reports that Mr. Bout’s companies were used as subcontractors by the American military to deliver supplies to Iraq in 2003 and 2004, earning about $60 million, by Mr. Farah’s estimate. “I read those reports with shock,” Mr. Wolosky said. “Personally, I attributed it to the disorder of the Iraq war effort.”

In Afghanistan before 9/11, Mr. Bout had long supplied Ahmed Shah Massoud, the ethnic Tajik warlord who spent years fighting the Taliban. Later, he supplied the Taliban, said former American officials, who believe his only real allegiance was to money. In 2007, Mr. Braun, then the D.E.A. operations chief, said he was asked by Bush administration officials about prosecuting Mr. Bout. The agency lured him into a trap in which the agency said he agreed to sell surface-to-air missiles and other military gear to agency informants posing as FARC operatives. At a meeting in a Bangkok hotel in March 2008, according to court records, Mr. Bout scribbled price estimates and doodled an aircraft, telling his ostensible customers “that the United States was also his enemy.” “It’s not, uh, business,” Mr. Bout said on tape, the records say. “It’s my fight.”


Russia's Spetsnaz and Islamic Terrorism

There is no doubt that the Soviet Union played a tremendous role in the expansion and evolution of Islamic terrorism. Many of the people responsible for the policy of promoting fundamentalist miliancy still hold key positions in Russia. People can accept the fact that there are "anti-Bush" cliques inside the CIA and State Department, and the fact that there are "pro-Bin Laden" cliques in the Pakistani military ISI. Yet, for some strange reason, they cannot accept the fact that there are still "pro-Marxist" cliques inside Russia. I believe that the Russian Mafia operates in unison with these "rogue" elements, almost as a separate intelligence directorate.

To help our readers understand how this clique works, and what it means today, I am posting a series of important quotes from the book, "Spetsnaz" by the defector, Viktor Suvorov. I believe that readers will have a better understanding of the role Russia's Spetsnaz (elite special unit of the GRU) played in terrorism and how it continues to support terrorism by operating through the mafia or in the security services themselves.

Quotes From "Spetsnaz" by Viktor Suvorov

"…Soviet secret police, the KGB, carries out different functions (than the Spetsnaz) and has other priorities. It has its own terrorist apparatus, which includes an organization very similar to spetsnaz, known as osnaz. The KGB uses osnaz for carrying out a range of tasks not dissimilar to those performed by the GRU's spetsnaz. But the Soviet leaders consider that it is best not to have any monopolies in the field of secret warfare. Competition, they feel, gives far better results than ration."

"…Osnaz apparently came into being practically at the same time as the Communist dictatorship. In the very first moments of the existence of the Soviet regime, we find references to detachments osobogo nazhacheniya-special purpose detachments. Osnaz means military-terrorist units, which came into being as shock troops of the Communist Party whose job was to defend the party. Osnaz was later handed over to the secret police, which changed its own name from time to time as easily as a snake changes its skins: Cheka-Vcheka-OGPU-NKVD-NKGB-MGB-MVD-KGB. Once a snake, however, always a snake."

"It is the fact that Spetsnaz belongs to the army, and Osnaz to the secret police, that accounts for all the differences between them. Spetsnaz operates mainly against external enemies; Osnaz does the same but mainly in its own territory and against its own citizens. Even if both Spetsnaz and Osnaz are faced with carrying out one and the same operation, the Soviet leadership is not inclined to rely so much on co-operation between the army and the secret police as on the strong competitive instincts between them."

"…Thus if it is relatively easy to recruit a man to act as a 'sleeper', what about recruiting a foreigner to act as a real terrorist, prepared to commit murder, use explosives and fire buildings? Surely that is much more difficult? The answer is that, surprisingly, it is not."

"A Spetsnaz officer out to recruit agents for direct terrorist action has a wonderful base for his work in the West. There are a tremendous number of people who are discontented and ready to protest against absolutely anything. And while millions protest peacefully, some individuals will resort to any means to make their protest. The spetsnaz officer has only to find the malcontent who is ready to go to extremes."

"On another occasion a group of animal rights activists in the UK injected bars of chocolate with poison. If spetsnaz were able to contact that group, and there is every chance it might, it would be extremely keen (without, of course, mentioning its name) to suggest to them a number of even more effective ways of protesting. Activists, radicals, peace campaigners, green party members: as far as the leaders of the GRU are concerned, these are like ripe water-melons, green on the outside, but red on the inside-and mouth-watering. So there is a good base for recruiting."

"The spetsnaz network of agents has much in common with international terrorism, a common center, for example-yet they are different things and must not be confused. It would be foolhardy to claim that international terrorism came into being on orders from Moscow. But to claim that, without Moscow's support, international terrorism would never have assumed the scale it has would not be rash. Terrorism has been born in a variety of situations, in various circumstances and in different kinds of soil. Local nationalism has always been a potent source, and the Soviet Union supports it in any form, just as it offers concrete support to extremist groups operating within nationalist movements. Exceptions are made, of course, of the nationalist groups within the Soviet Union and the countries under its influence."

"If groups of extremists emerge in areas where there is no sure Soviet influence, you may be sure that the Soviet Union will very shortly be their best friend. In the GRU alone there are two independent and very powerful bodies dealing with questions relating to extremists and terrorists."

"…The GRU's tactics toward terrorists are simple: never give them any orders, never tell them what to do. They are destroying Western civilization: they know how to do it, the argument goes, so let them get on with it unfettered by petty supervision. Among them there are idealists ready to die for their own ideas. So let them die for them. The most important thing is to preserve their illusion that they are completely free and independent."

"Although the vast majority of spetsnaz is made up of Slavonic personnel, there are some exceptions…And spetsnaz contains Turks, Kurds, Greeks, Koreans, Mongolians, Finns and people of other nationalities."

"The Soviet Union condemns the civil war in Lebanon. But there is no need for it to condemn the war. All it has to do is hold back the next transportation of ammunition and war will cease."

"Apart from military and financial support, the Soviet Union also provides the terrorists aid in the form of training. Training centers have been set up in the Soviet Union for training terrorists from a number of different countries."

"Every terrorist is studied carefully during his training, and among them will be noted the potential leaders and the born rebels who will not submit to any authority…Of equal importance are the students' weaknesses and ambitions, and their relationships with one another. Some time, many years ahead, one of them may become an important leader, but not one approved by Moscow, so it is vital to know in advance who his likely friends and enemies will be."

"The reward for the GRU is that a terrorist doing work for spetsnaz does not, in the great majority of cases, suspect he is being used. He is utterly convinced that he is acting independently, of his own will and by his own choice. The GRU does not leave its signature or his fingerprints around."

"Even in cases where it is not a question of individual terrorists but of experienced leaders of terrorist organizations, the GRU takes extraordinary steps to ensure that not only all outsiders but even the terrorist leader himself should not realize the extent of his subordination to spetsnaz and consequently to the GRU."

"The overture is a series of large and small operations the purpose of which is, before actual military operations begin, to weaken the enemy's morale, create an atmosphere of general suspicion, fear and uncertainty, and divert the attention of the enemy's armies and police forces to a huge number of different targets, each of which may be the object of the next attack."

"The overture is carried by agents of the secret services of the Soviet satellite countries and by mercenaries recruited by intermediaries. The principal method employed at this stage is "gray terror", that is, a kind of terror which is not conducted in the name of the Soviet Union. The Soviet secret services do not at this stage leave their visiting cards, or leave other people's cards. The terror is carried out in the name of already existing extremist groups not connected in any way with the Soviet Union, or in the name of the fictitious organizations. The GRU reckons that in this period its operations should be regarded as natural disasters, actions by forces beyond human control, mistakes by people, or as terrorist acts by organizations not connected with the Soviet Union."

"The terrorist acts carried out in the course of the 'overture' require very few people, very few weapons and little equipment. In some cases all that may be needed is one man who has a weapon nothing more than a screwdriver, a box of marches or a glass ampoule. Some of the operations can have catastrophic consequences. For example, an epidemic of an infectious disease at seven of the most important naval bases in the West could have the effect of halving the combined naval might of the Soviet Union's enemies."

"There is a marked increase in the strength of the peace movement. In many countries there are continual demand to make the country neutral and not to support American foreign policy, which has been discredited. At this point the 'gray terror' gathers scope and strength and in the last days of peace reaches its peak."


In related news:

Georgia Holds 13, Saying They Spied for Russia

New Spy Saga or PR Stunt? Georgia slammed for 'Russian agents' arrest:

Georgia’s Interior Ministry announced Friday that it used a former Soviet officer to infiltrate Russia’s military intelligence service, uncovering dozens of covert agents working in Georgia. The ministry named 13 people who had been detained on charges of spying, of whom 6 are pilots in Georgia’s Air Force and 4 are Russian citizens. Most are suspected of passing on information about Georgia’s combat readiness, weapons purchases, communications and coordination with foreign armies. Their names were uncovered when a double agent was given access to sensitive software and encryption codes used by the G.R.U., Russia’s military intelligence service, said Shota Utiashvili, head of analysis for the Georgian Interior Ministry. A similar spy scandal in 2006 led relations between Russia and Georgia into a steep downward spiral. The Russian Foreign Ministry on Friday responded angrily, saying in a statement that “the Saakashvili regime suffers from chronic spy mania fueled by anti-Russian sentiment.” The ministry was referring to the government of President Mikheil Saakashvili.

Konstantin I. Kosachev, chairman of the international affairs committee in the Duma, said the suspects “had no relationship to the intelligence services.” “This is a very serious situation, and those who have undertaken this last provocation in Georgia should recall very clearly that Russia does not abandon her citizens when they are in trouble,” Mr. Kosachev told the Interfax news service. Russia claimed, in particular, that Georgia had announced the arrests to sabotage Russia’s relationships with Western nations on the eve of two summit meetings — the NATO-Russia Council in Lisbon and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Astana, Kazakhstan. Relations between Georgia and its huge neighbor have remained in a state of uneasy suspension since the two countries went to war in August 2008.

Russia has built military bases within Georgia’s borders in the breakaway territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Friday’s announcement had been widely anticipated after a news leak several days ago, and coincided with the broadcast of a prime-time television documentary about the operation on a pro-government television station. Shorena Shaverdashvili, editor of the Georgian weekly political magazine Liberali, said she was waiting to see what additional evidence was forthcoming. “This effort to build it up over the course of the week, the documentary, the special press conference — it seems like a media package,” she said. After the Soviet collapse, newly independent countries faced a colossal task in identifying former Soviet informants, said Mr. Utiashvili, who estimated that in 1991 the K.G.B. had 20,000 active agents in Georgia.

In 2006, Georgia offered amnesty to citizens who reported being approached by Russian intelligence. Among those who responded was a former Soviet Army officer who had lived most of his life in Georgia, Mr. Utiashvili said. The officer began to work as a double agent, and several months ago gained access to software and encryption materials that allowed Georgia to identify people with links to Russian intelligence. All the suspects were based in Ajaria, an enclave on the Black Sea. Until 2004, Ajaria asserted its independence from Georgia and was supported by Russia, meaning that “the G.R.U. had a free hand” to recruit operatives, Mr. Utiashvili said. In the documentary, which ran Friday night, the double agent said he agreed to do intelligence work for Russia in return for receiving a pension he was owed from his service in the Soviet intelligence service. He was then trained in codes and equipment.

He said that initially, his Russian handlers were particularly interested in the United States training of the Georgian Navy and the navy’s abilities, but that their requests became more difficult to satisfy — ranging from technical descriptions of military vehicles to political and economic analysis. When he began working with Georgian intelligence, they approved all the information he sent to Russia. One of the suspects who spoke in the documentary said that during the 2008 war his Russian handlers asked him where Georgian helicopters might be hidden. He named the Borjomi ravine, a spot that — the documentary showed with dramatic footage — was subsequently set on fire.


Two Armenians among “Russian spies” detained in Georgia

Georgian mass media has published the names of three people (two Armenians among them) out of 20, who are allegedly accused of spying for Russia in Georgia. As reported by Georgian InterPressNews website, Nana Tsuladze, their lawyer, said that Armen Gevorkian and Ruben Shikoyan were arrested on October 17, and they have been sentenced to two-month preliminary imprisonment, and an investigation is under way. Information about arrests of 20 spies for Russia was released on 29 October. Georgian intelligence service representatives have only reported that the detainees were creating a spying network in Georgia, alleging that they collected secret information, and passed it to Russia later. The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia has not reported any other details yet, saying that it will make a statement on the case on November 5. ‘I don’t know the exact number of detainees. As for my clients, they are ethnically Armenian, but citizens of Georgia. Before their arrest, they worked in one of the companies’ that inspects cargoes and oil. Gevorkian was director of the Company, Shikoyan was his assistant,’ Tsuladze told InterPressNews. As reported by website the detainees lived in Batumi (Ajaria) and they have Georgian citizenship. Armen Gevorkian was head of the Armenian Diaspora in Ajaria for six years (before 2004). Georgian and Armenian press also circulated information, saying that the detainees were members of ‘Javakhk’ democratic movement in Georgia. MP Shirak Torosyan, who heads the ‘Javakhk’ compatriotic union, says that residents of Ajaria Gevorkian and Shikoyan could not be members of a Javakhk-based NGO. As Torosyan told ArmeniaNow, Georgian authorities cannot use the fact of the detainees’ being ethnically Armenians against Armenia, because they are Georgian citizens.


In other news:

Russia calls on US to probe WikiLeaks documents

Russia called on the US Thursday to carry out a detailed investigation into allegations contained in leaked Iraq war documents published by WikiLeaks. “The US authorities bear the responsibility to conduct a thorough, independent and transparent investigation of all the reports that have appeared in the media,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The statement pointed out that Washington regularly ticked off other countries for human-rights violations and said it should live up to its own standards by investigating the allegations of abuses by troops. “We are convinced that such a position will demonstrate the US adherence to the high standards in the human rights sphere that it constantly calls on other countries to observe,” it said. The ministry called for the results of the investigation to be published and made available to human-rights groups. It expressed the hope that the US handling of the scandal would allow it to pass a “serious test” during an upcoming review by the UN Human Rights Council which evaluates respect for human rights in its member states. Repeated US criticism of human-rights violations in Russia, especially under the previous administration of George W. Bush, has rankled the Kremlin and contributed to a chill in ties. US President Barack Obama has taken a less aggressive stance on human rights in Russia, even though his administration has regularly expressed concerns over police breaking up peaceful demonstrations in Russia.


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Dear reader,

Arevordi will be taking a sabbatical to tend to personal matters. New blog commentaries will henceforth be posted on an irregular basis. The comments board however will continue to be moderated on a regular basis.

The last 20 years or so has also helped me see Russia as the last front against scourges of Westernization, Globalism, American expansionism, Zionism, Islamic extremism and pan-Turkism. I have also come to see Russia as the last hope humanity has for the preservation of classical western civilization, Apostolic Christianity and the traditional nation-state. This realization compelled me to create this blog in 2010. Immediately, this blog became one of the very few voices in the vastness of cyberia that dared to preach about the dangers of Globalism and the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance, and the only voice preaching the strategic importance of Armenia remaining within Russia's orbit. From about 2010 to 2015 I did monthly, at times weekly, commentaries about Russian-Armenian relations and Eurasian geopolitics in general. It was very difficult as I had no assistance in this endeavor. The time I put into this blog therefore came at the expense of work and family. But a powerful feeling inside me urged me to keep going; and I did.

When Armenia finally joined the EEU and integrated its armed forces into Russia's military structures a couple of years ago, I finally felt a deep sense of satisfaction and relaxation, as if a very heavy burden was lifted off my shoulders. I finally felt that my personal mission was accomplished. I therefore felt I could take a step back, as I really needed the rest. Simply put: I have lived to see the institutionalization of Russian-Armenian alliance. Also, I feel more confident now that Armenians are collectively recognizing the strategic importance of Armenia's ties with Russia. Moreover, I feel satisfied knowing that, at least on a subatomic level, I had a hand in the outcome. As a result, I feel a strong sense of mission accomplished. I therefore no longer have the urge to continue as in the past. In other words, the motivational force that had propelled me in previous years has been gradually dissipating because I feel that this blog has lived to see the realization of its stated goal. Going forward, I do not want to write merely for the sake of writing. Also, I do not want to say something if I have nothing important to say. I feel like I have said everything I needed to say. Henceforth, I will post seasonal commentaries about topics I find important. I will however continue moderating the blog's comments section on a regular basis; ultimately because I'm interested in what my readers have to say and also because it's through readers here that I am at times made aware of interesting developments.

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