Diplomat from Russian mission to WTO oversaw secret hit squad – media.

President Vladimir Putin, who previously headed Russia's main intelligence agency, has made the country's military and spy agencies a priority during his tenure in office.

The Insider

The Insider

A Russian man who had diplomatic credentials in Geneva was in fact a military intelligence officer linked to a secret hit squad accused of a spate of poisonings in Europe, according to a new report by the open-source investigative organization Bellingcat.

The report, released on February 25, was the latest to examine the operations of Russian security agencies, highlighting what experts warn are aggressive and far-reaching efforts by Moscow to conduct surveillance, sabotage, and even assassinations abroad, RFE/RL reports.

President Vladimir Putin, who previously headed Russia's main intelligence agency, has made the country's military and spy agencies a priority during his tenure in office.

In March 2018, former Russian agent Sergei Skripal, along with his daughter, nearly died after being poisoned with what British experts said was a sophisticated military-grade nerve agent.

Bellingcat, along with other outlets, later identified a military intelligence unit – known as Unit 29155 – that was behind the incident, and two of the agents involved.

Read alsoBloomberg: Bulgaria investigated two Russian diplomats over espionage

Bellingcat later published a report accusing Russia's military intelligence agency, unofficially known as the GRU, of also being responsible for the poisoning of a Bulgarian arms dealer in Sofia in 2015.

In December, Bulgarian officials said their investigation of the case focused on five alleged GRU agents, including a Russian general. Last month, Bulgarian prosecutors announced charges against three Russians, and an Interpol arrest warrant was issued.

In its new report, released in conjunction with the Russian news site The Insider and the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger, Bellingcat said one of the three Russians who was charged by the Bulgarians and who went by the name Georgy Gorshkov was in fact a Russian named Yegor Gordienko.

The report said Gordienko had official diplomatic status at Russia’s mission to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva, and was first posted there in January 2017, with an expected assignment of three years.

But he was abruptly recalled from Switzerland in October 2018 after Bellingcat and The Insider published a report identifying the existence of a GRU team operating in Europe.

Bellingcat said Gordienko was also in regular contact with two other GRU agents who have been charged in Britain for their role in the Skripal poisoning.

Read alsoRussian agents plunge to new ocean depths in Ireland to crack transatlantic cables – The Times

Bellingcat said they confirmed Gordinenko's presence in Geneva based on official diplomatic lists provided by the WTO and the Swiss Foreign Ministry. And they published what they said was an online record of a road race that Gordienko apparently ran in 2018.

Bellingcat said that Gordienko left Geneva late on October 25, 2018, and arrived in Moscow early the next month. Electronic metadata for Gordienko’s cell phone showed that he called his boss, the commander of Unit 29155, Major General Andrei Averyanov.

Averyanov wasn't widely known publicly until last year, when his name first surfaced in a New York Times report that examined the operations of Unit 29155.

A joint investigation by RFE/RL and Bellingcat later determined Averyanov attended the wedding of his daughter in July 2017 at a Moscow region country club.

Related news

Dubai Tightens Measures Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Dubai authorities on Saturday announced tighter measures to combat the novel coronavirus, as the number of cases in the United Arab Emirates surpassed 1,500.

Queen Elizabeth II To Praise Virus Response In Rare Address.

Queen Elizabeth II will urge people to rise to the challenge posed by the coronavirus outbreak, in a rare special address to Britain and Commonwealth nations on Sunday.

Donald Trump Hopes Virus-Hit Sport Back «Sooner Than Later» .

President Donald Trump said Saturday he believed US sports leagues hit by the coronavirus pandemic would resume "sooner rather than later" but declined to set a timetable for their return.

Stigma, shaming and fear: The hidden suffering of coronavirus around the world.

The spreading global pandemic has tested the competing interests of public health and privacy, with thousands of individuals experiencing both physical illness and the less-visible stigma that can come with it.

630 people have died due to coronavirus in New York state’s bleakest 24 hours.

Health experts calculate that New York, home both to bustling Manhattan and hilly farm country stretching to the Canadian border, might be around a week away from the worst point in the health crisis which has killed about 60,000 people worldwide.

By continuing to browse World News (UAZMI), you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and agree to the use of cookies