Mysterious GRU drowning
Last month’s drowning death of a senior Russian military intelligence official in Syria has sparked speculation among intelligence officials that the spymaster was killed as part of an effort by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to centralize Russian intelligence power and return to the era of the all-powerful KGB communist political police.
Russian military newspaperRed Star triggered the interest of U.S. and other foreign intelligence agencies after a terse statement last month announcing the death of Maj. Gen. Yury Yevgenyevich Ivanov, deputy chief of the Russian military’s Main Intelligence Directorate, whose acronym is GRU. The newspaper stated only that Gen. Ivanov “died tragically.”
Turkish news reports said Gen. Ivanov disappeared Aug. 6 while swimming in the Mediterranean near the Syrian port of Latakia and that Turkish villagers discovered his body two days later on the shore of the Turkish coastal province of Hatay.
U.S. intelligence sources said the general’s death was reported amid signs that Mr. Putin is taking steps to set up a new KGB-like spy service by placing the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, known as SVR, under the control of the domestic Federal Security Service for the first time since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
After the collapse, the KGB’s domestic security unit was renamed the FSB, and its foreign spy unit became a separate agency renamed SVR.
Kenneth deGraffenreid, a former deputy national counterintelligence executive, said Russia has been conducting for some time what he called an “ominous” reconsolidation of the elements of the old Soviet KGB under the Russian FSB.
“This past summer’s uncovering of the Russian ‘illegals’ network suggests that the practices of the powerful Russian secret police apparatus haven’t changed much since the days of Felix Dzerzhinsky’s Cheka,” he said, referring to the Bolsheviks’ secret police chief.
“These developments add more speculation that the recent mysterious death of Gen. Ivanov may be ‘no accident,’ as the old Soviets were fond of saying.”
As if Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, did not have enough to worry about waging counterinsurgency warfare, an anthropological study commissioned by the U.S. military concluded that the United States‘ tribal Pashtun allies in southern Afghanistan prefer boys.
The study, “Pashtun Sexuality,” was completed by the Human Terrain Team, a group of anthropologists that work with the U.S. military, according to reporter Eli Lake, who obtained a copy of the report.View Entire Story
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Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.
He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.
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