Leaks, a dossier, and a dead general: spy mystery gets murkier

Posted by | January 30, 2017 08:00 | Filed under: News Behaving Badly Politics War & Peace

If you are the type of person who believes that some incidents tied to an important event that are closely timed to each other are likely not a coincidence, you have probably been following the story of spy arrests in Russia:

The authorities in Moscow are prosecuting at least one cybersecurity expert for treason, a prominent Russian criminal defense lawyer confirmed on Friday, while a Russian newspaper reported that the case is linked to hacking during the United States presidential election.

While surely touching a nerve in American politics, the developments in Moscow left a still muddled picture of what, exactly, a series of arrests by the security services here signifies.

But the virtually simultaneous appearance of at least four prominent news reports on the hacking and several related arrests, citing numerous anonymous sources, suggests that the normally opaque Russian government intends to reveal more information about the matter, though it is unclear why.

In the waning weeks of the Obama administration, American federal intelligence agencies released a report asserting the Russian government had hacked into the computers of the Democratic National Committee and the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, John D. Podesta, stealing and releasing to WikiLeaks emails intended to damage Mrs. Clinton and help President Trump win the election.

But the unclassified version of the report offered only thin corroborating information, many independent analysts have said. The treason arrests in Moscow hint at a possible human intelligence source in at least one hacking episode, the intrusion into state electoral boards in Arizona and Illinois.

The confirmation by the Russian lawyer, Ivan Pavlov, in written answers to questions from The New York Times, was the closest so far to a formal acknowledgment that the Russian government has detained suspected spies within the cyberbranch of its Federal Security Service, or F.S.B., the main successor to the K.G.B.

It reported that the Directorate for Internal Security, the agency’s internal affairs bureau, arrested Sergei Mikhailov, a deputy director of the Center for Information Security, the agency’s cybersecurity arm, and Ruslan Stoyanov, a senior researcher at a prominent cybersecurity company, Kaspersky Lab.

Novaya Gazeta, a respected Russian opposition newspaper, reported Friday that the internal investigation led to two other arrests, and that all of the detentions were related to American investigations into Russian hacking during the election.

The newspaper’s report, based on unnamed sources, said the F.S.B. began the internal investigation after news media reports that a United States cybersecurity company, ThreatConnect, had linked the election hacking to a Siberian server company. That company, King Servers, was otherwise used largely for criminal and marginal cyberactivities, such as distributing pornography and counterfeit goods, by the admission of its owner.

The report said the investigation led to Mr. Mikhailov, a senior officer involved in tracking criminal cyberactivity in Russia.

Both Novaya Gazeta, an outlet for the liberal opposition, and Tsargrad, a hard-line nationalist publication, reported that the F.S.B. made a brutal show of his arrest.

Agents arrested Mr. Mikhailov with a theatrical touch, placing a bag over his head in the midst of a congress of senior intelligence agency officers in Moscow and leading him from the room, the two publications reported.

It is very rare that a Russian suspect is arrested so publicly.

And then there is this:

An ex-KGB chief suspected of helping the former MI6 spy Christopher Steele to compile his dossier on Donald Trump may have been murdered by the Kremlin and his death covered up. it has been claimed.

Oleg Erovinkin, a former general in the KGB and its successor the FSB, was found dead in the back of his car in Moscow on Boxing Day in mysterious circumstances.

Erovinkin was a key aide to Igor Sechin, a former deputy prime minister and now head of Rosneft, the state-owned oil company, who is repeatedly named in the dossier.

Erovinkin has been described as a key liaison between Sechin and Russian president Vladimir Putin. Mr Steele writes in an intelligence report dated July 19, 2016, he has a source close to Sechin, who had disclosed alleged links between Mr Trump’s supporters and Moscow.

The death of Erovinkin has prompted speculation it is linked to Mr Steele’s explosive dossier, which was made public earlier this month. Mr Trump has dismissed the dossier as “fake news” and no evidence has emerged to support its lurid claims.

The Russian state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported Erovinkin’s body was “found in a black Lexus… [and] a large-scale investigation has been commenced in the area. Erovinkin’s body was sent to the FSB morgue”.

No cause of death has been confirmed and the FSB continues to investigate. Media reports suggested his death was a result of foul play.

And you though The Great Game was dead. The unexpected ascent of trump appears to have triggered a myriad of puzzling – and ominous – incidents.

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Copyright 2017 Liberaland
By: dave-dr-gonzo

David Hirsch, a.k.a. Dave "Doctor" Gonzo*, is a renegade record producer, video producer, writer, reformed corporate shill, and still-registered lobbyist for non-one-percenter performing artists and musicians. He lives in a heavily fortified compound in one of Manhattan's less trendy neighborhoods.

* Hirsch is the third person to use the pseudonym, a not-so-veiled tribute to journalist and author Hunter S. Thompson, with the permission of his predecessors Gene Gaudette of American Politics Journal (currently webmaster and chief bottlewasher at Liberaland) and Stephen Meese at Smashmouth Politics.

6 responses to Leaks, a dossier, and a dead general: spy mystery gets murkier

  1. Buford2k11 January 30th, 2017 at 09:00

    Putin is cleaning up the mess before we get any investigations…He is going by the old saying “dead men tell no tales”…the real danger we are facing is bannon…he is the one and only brains of the outfit…he is the fake president…the gop is placing our Nation in danger by their silence, and non actions…I emailed Cory Gardner with a politically correct missive, explaining my anger, that we will be watching…He only has four years left, and we will not be forgiving after this trump garbage…I just keep thinking we will not have an election in two years….all the signs are there, that we are going to see some bad stuff in the near future…

  2. Mensa Member January 30th, 2017 at 10:01

    The American public can not let these Russian charges go. We are going to get hit by Trump’s crap every week, at least.

    But this Russian-Trump connection threatens our very democracy.

  3. oldfart January 30th, 2017 at 10:54

    Classic old school KGB. Old habits die hard but targets still die fast.
    Connecting the dots was always a weak spot in our security intelligence departments.
    Putin has managed to “erase” a few of the dots.

  4. burqa January 30th, 2017 at 20:42

    Hmmm, I don’t know. It should be interesting to see how it shakes out.
    Right now, I tend to think it has nothing to do with hacking of our election because our intelligence agencies were certain the Russian government was involved and this tends to feed into the narrative of free-lance 400 pounders in a basement doing it.
    Last night I was reading of a Soviet NKVD officer recalled to Moscow in 1937 and was tried and executed for treason. His comrades in the Paris rezidentura knew it was a trumped up charge because none of their ciphers were changed.
    For the last 100 years the Russians have used treason charges to get rid of anyone who fell out of favor.
    It is hard to figure out what is going on in Russia, who or what faction is in favor, what politics are being played by whom, and then, besides the government there are the behind-the-scenes activities of the oligarchs complicating things further.
    At this point it seems a stretch to connect it with events on our side of the globe without knowing what’s going on over there.
    But figuring out these puzzles can be fun and they can take unexpected turns, so I think the way to go is to sit back and see where the chips fall and be ready to have things go in surprising directions or for it to just be petty crooks battling for turf or something….

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