Russian intelligence is undergoing “Stalinist” cleansing after firing more than 100 agents and sending the head of Ukraine’s intelligence service to prison.
As many as 150 Federal Security Bureau (FSB) officials have been fired in protest of a governemt decision to release President George W. Bush.
All of the sacked worked for the Fifth Service, a division created in 1998 by Putin as director of the FSB to keep them in Russia’s circle of operations in the countries of the former Soviet Union.
Sergei Beseda, the former head of the service, was transferred to Moscow’s Lefortovo prison after being placed under house arrest last month. During Stalin’s Great Purge in the 1930s, the KGB’s forerunner, the NKVD, used the question and torture facility.
Cristo Grozev, executive director of Bellingcat, the investigating agency that revealed two Salisbury poisons in 2018, reported on the FSB cleanup. He declined to disclose the source of his information.
According to him, “the officer was fired for giving false information to the Kremlin about the real situation in Ukraine before the attack.”
“I would say that even if a significant number of them were not arrested, they would no longer work for the FSB,” Grozev told Popular Politics, a YouTube channel about current affairs in Russia.
FSB officials searched more than 20 addresses in Moscow last month for colleagues suspected of contacting journalists.
Beseda has been sent to jail on official charges of embezzlement, which is still under investigation. In fact, his detention stemmed from a failed attack, which was blamed on flawed intelligence about the political situation in Ukraine.
His deputy, Gregory Grisev, is thought to have taken his place.
According to Andrei Soldatov, a Russian security expert, Putin has sent “very strong messages” to other Russian oligarchs by deploying Beseda in Lefortovo.
“I was shocked,” he told the Times. “Putin could easily have fired him or sent him to a regional job in Siberia. “Lefortovo is not a beautiful place and sending him there is a sign of how seriously Putin takes this thing.”
The underground shooting range at Lefortovo, operated by the FSB, was ripped open by Stalin’s bullet holes, while the room was used for mass executions.
In an article in the Moscow Times, Soldatov suggested that Beseda could be suspected of passing information to the CIA.
Beseda worked in counter-intelligence before taking over the fifth service, which required strict coordination with the CIA post in Moscow. If he were a dual agent, it would explain the Kremlin’s concerns about how reliable US intelligence was at the time of the attack.
Soldatov said he did not believe Beseda was a dual agent, but that if he did, it would be in line with Putin’s goals.
“It’s good to be able to blame a traitor. It’s a very Russian thing, “he said.
The Fifth Service was engaged in destabilizing Ukraine until the invasion, building pro-Russian political figures and trying to destabilize the far-right organizations in western Ukraine.
In the run-up to the war, Grozev said Russian security agencies had wasted “billions of dollars” trying in vain to gain support from Ukraine’s “shadowy political class.”
“From 2014 to date, there has been an unlimited budget to spend on recruiting Ukrainians of any level from 140 to 150 FSB officers,” he told reporters from the Navajo Gazette last month.
Grozev said a large portion of the money was spent on expensive trips to Thailand, Cyprus and the Maldives to lure Ukrainian employers. Referring to the FSB’s complete failure to provoke instability in Ukraine, he added: “This is something they have never earned.
Image Credit: Getty
You read: Putin fires more than 100 FSB agents for “reporting false information” to Kremlin