Written by Aleksandr Kots; Originally appeared at KP.ru, translated by J.Hawk exclusively for SouthFront
Komsomolskaya Pravda (KP) learned the names of the chief participants in the provocation in which Russian citizens were arrested in Belarus prior to the elections.
“It’s not us, it’s an FSB provocation”—that was the official reaction of Ukrainian special services to the failure of their operation in Minsk. KP explained in detail how 33 Russians, most of whom fought on the Donbass, were lured to Belarus. They were promised a flight from Minsk to Venezuela to protect Rosneft facilities.
In the meantime Ukrainian services told their Belarusian equivalents that these persons are Wagner PMC associates who came to “destabilize the situation” prior to the elections. The Russians were arrested in Minsk and accused first of terrorism and later in preparing mass disorders. Kiev sent a request for extradition those who fought against Ukrainian forces on the Donbass…And nobody knows how it would have ended if it weren’t for Russian agencies uncovering the Ukrainian intelligence services plan. And sending its details to Minsk.
Before our compatriots were sent back to the Motherland, they received apologies from Viktor, Aleksandr Lukashenko’s eldest son. Ukrainian journalist blasted out a story that the operation failed due to several officials’ treachery. Verkhovna Rada initiated the establishment of a Temporary Investigative Committee to identify the “traitor”.
It is also now clear that certain CIA officials from the Kiev office stood behind the operation. A source in Russian intelligence told the details to the KP journalist.
Ukrainians Kept Track
– Do we now have a full picture of the provocation?
– Relevant agencies achieved clarity a long time ago, already when they were arrested in Minsk. It was definitively established Ukraine’s services stood behind the operation, which was announced on August 7. We determined the tickets were bought by specific individuals on Ukraine’s territory, and the fake phone numbers were indirectly procured from Kiev.
According to my interlocutor, new information appeared during the last month pointing to Ukraine’s participation in the operation. For example, the advertisement to hire security personnel for Rosneft was placed on September 25, 2019, using the IP address of the Russian company Rekonn which was rented by Aleksey Anatolyevich Kutsyn, a citizen of Ukraine.
– He’s well known in SBU, including an official named Borisenko, said our interlocutor. –Another link we found was the payment for the domain name, which had a fake email address that was used in the correspondence with the Russians and utilized a Canadian IP address through the payment system of JSC Universal Bank, based in Ukraine.
Moreover, Russian law enforcement determined insurance for Russians who went to Minsk was payed by a Moscow-based insurance company Arsenal, from the name of one of the group members using a Kiev IP address. But he could not be in Kiev. We also established that those who transferred money from Moscow and St. Petersburg to the senior member of Wagner group. We were able to uncover the whole chain in Ukraine and Turkey.
– The future Temporary Investigative Commission of the Rada which Zelensky does not want to see created, as well as “independent” journalists like Gordon, Arestovich, and Butusov, could themselves turn to, for example, Georgi Lortkipanidze, the former advisor to the current SBU head Vasiliy Gritsak, who could explain who gave the directives to transfer money to, among others, Chechens hiding in Kiev, Daniel Albert and Akhmadov Khasmagomed, says my interlocutor. –They will tell you who asked them to organize the money received in Minsk by Gennadiy Kumpan’s son Vladislov. The first, I remind you, met our citizens on the Belarusian side. One can also find in Odessa Konstantin Tikhomirov, a fraudster who fled from St. Petersburg in 2018, and ask him who asked him to use his connections in St. Petersburg to transfer money to Belarus for the snior member of the Wagner group. In order to find Tikhomirov as quickly as possible, we recommend find a local inhabitant by the name of Vadim Verbitskiy—he’ll tell you.
Incidentally, as soon as our compatriots were arrested, Ukraine’s ambassador in Minsk was the first to know, as indicated by his July 30 report to Kiev. According to our source, if Ukraine was not a party to this provocation, it’s hardly likely Ukraine’s embassy would know so quickly of it.
The Kiev Residence
– Both SBU and Ukraine’s foreign intelligence denied their involvement. The new director of the Main Directorate of Intelligence at Ukraine’s MoD, Kirill Budanov, said outright this was an FSB provocation. At the same time Ukrainian journalist Gordon bragged even his interview with Lukashenko was part of the special operation.
– But who likes to admit to a failure? One wants to look like a winner. Hence the mutually contradictory statements and actions, deliberate and spontaneous leaks to the media and the Internet. If you add the clear shock displayed by Ukrainian authorities once they realized their dirty designs to “covertly” use a friendly country were uncovered. And they also now had to explain themselves to the CIA.
– Do we know who specifically participated in developing this provocation?
– We do. The future Rada commission or independent journalists ought to visit House 5/7 on Patorzhinskiy St. in Kiev where the 5th Directorate of SBU Counter-Intelligence is located, go to third floor, open doors to rooms 309, 314, 315, 316, and even better 317, find there, for example, Vladislav Dolgozvyaga who works in the 2nd Department of 5th Directorate, and ask him to get this case out of the safe. In case the safe is empty, we can give you the list of 1st and 2nd Department, 5th Directorate, who worked on this topic in various forms and at various times.
1st Department of the 5th Directorate
- Pavlo Gennadiyevich Levchenko
- Valentin Mikolayovich Makarenko
- Konstantin Anatolyevich Romanov (2nd Department)
- Pavlo Vasilyovich Mazurchuk
- Sergiy Petrovich Vashchenko
- Andrey Nikolayevich Mikhalitskiy
- Viktor Viktorovich Vaselyuk
- Sergey Petrovich Maglovany
- Viktor Vladimirovich Gladishev
- Sergey Vasilyevich Parkhomenko
- Maksim Ivanovich Lashch
- Sergey Igorovich Korolyov
- Vladislav Yurievich Sidorenko
- Aleksandr Viktorovich Kokarev
- Dmitry Yuriyevich Kozlovskiy
- Maksim Vladimirovich Kalko
- Konstantin Andriyevich Korneyev
- Sergey Vladimirovich Savitskiy
2nd Department of the 5th Directorate
- Konstantin Anatoliyevich Romanov
- Valeriy Viktorivich Vintonenko
- Viktor Vladimirovich Litovchenko
- Ivan Vasilyevich Onishchuk
- Viktor Nikolayevich Zayets
- Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Levishchenko
- Oleg Vladimirovich Struk
- Nikolai Olegovich Korchun
- Maksim Olegovich Rubets
- Ivan Ivanovich Markov
- Taras Nikolayevich Zagola
- Dmitriy Sergiyevich Piddyachih
- Vladislav Vladimirovich Dolgozvyaga
- Bogdan Sergievich Bondar
- Aleksey Viktorovich Gavrik
- Sergey Aleksandrovich Gavrilenko
- Yuri Andreevich Golubinka
- Aleksandr Vladimirovich Demyanovich
- Andrey Andreyevich Mikhailenko
- Andrey Anatolyevich Mushta
- Bogdan Vladimirovich Pavlyatenko
One can also pose questions to the head of Department of Counterintelligence of the 3rd Directorate of the SBU Main Directorate for Donetsk and Lugansk Regions, Aleksey Zagainov, and his deputy Dmitry Turevich, since they went on vacation following “righteous struggle”—they also know something about how this operation was staged.
The legal perspective may be clarified by the Senior Investigator for Important Cases of the 2nd Department of the 1st Directorate of Pre-Trial Investigations of the SBU Main Investigative Directorate, Justice Lt. Col. Aleksandr Stanislavovich Tomusyak.
– You mentioned CIA. What was its role?
– Among the aforementioned intentional and unintentional leaks, there was one concerning the “known to Ukrainian intel” CIA residency operative codenamed “T”, who was made aware about the operation and improved its design. Anyone who wishes can meet the official representative of the CIA in Kiev, Timothy James Skovin, or his first deputy Thomas O’Burne, who could provide lots of interesting details.
The Basic Plan
– How was the plan improved?
– The basic plan was to lure citizens of Russia of interest to Ukraine’s intel to Ukraine. At the final stage, at US behest, there appeared a more global, strategic objective, namely driving a wedge into Russia-Belarus relations. This is why Ukraine lured the group to Minsk, and prevented its departure for Istambul.
Moreover, Ukrainian media announced, citing anonymous SBU sources, about how the airliner with Russians aboard was to be redirected to Ukraine. Different journalist had different versions—a Ukrainian agent was to feign illness, or to claim a terrorist attack. But my source is skeptical.
– Such options were discussed in SBU offices, but only at the outset. During the spring of 2020 it was decided to lure a group of supposed “Wagnerites” to Minsk and have them be arrested by Belarusian services. I’ll remind you that the tickets of all 33 Russian citizens which stipulated a departure from Minsk in the morning of July 25, were nullified late at night on July 24, just as they crossed to border into Belarus, something the group wasn’t aware of.
– In Ukraine, some feel that the operation failed due to treachery. Supposedly a decision was made during a meeting with Zelensky on July 24 to delay the operation, which in the event failed…
– It’s possible that on July 24 Zelensky held some kind of meeting. It’s also possible it concerned this topic. But the reservation for the Minsk-Istanbul tickets for all 33 was canceled as early as July 20! In other words, four days before July 24 the organizers assumed Russian citizens would remain in Belarus, and then find themselves in Ukraine.
Our source in intelligence also reminds us that on July 30, the day after the arrests, Ukraine surprisingly swiftly prepared extradition documents. Because it knew ahead of time whom to name in these documents. Or prepared them ahead of time. One wonders, why these documents if you are expecting the plane to land in Kiev?
In spite of the obvious failure, Ukrainian enthusiasts keep calling it unique and impossible to replicate.
– How do you assess it? –I asked relevant Russian officials.
– This operation became widely known only thanks to its resounding failure and, one might say, due to its internationally provocative character. Moreover, such attempts to lure people by Ukrainian services occurred earlier. For example, in 2018-2019, this approach of advertising work for Russian PMCs was used by SBU on the Internet. DPR and LPR security promptly informed their citizens of what was up. So that’s nothing new. Furthermore, intelligence and counter-intelligence are not figure skating or gymnastics where you evaluate complex techniques. Here, success and failure are determined on the basis of end result. You look at the score, as in hockey. You can see Russian citizens are back in Russia. Official Kiev, including Ukrainian services, don’t know how to restore trust of the neighboring country. Ukraine itself is “seeking traitors” among Zelensky’s entourage. Everyone saw how Ukrainian services can lie. The CIA is reassessing its trust in their Kiev colleagues. What is that, if not a failure? We don’t know how SBU and GUR named the operation internally, but it could be accurately named “Boomerang”—what we launched came back to haunt us.
– Nevertheless, could you tell when Russia became aware of it?
– At a certain stage which allowed us to return our citizens home whole and unharmed, and address a range of other missions without negatively affecting the security of our country.
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