October 25, 2023

From Saboteurs to Bureaucrats


From Saboteurs to Bureaucrats
Training of a special force GRU unit. Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, Wikimedia Commons

Journalists from The Insider analyzed the career progression of operatives from the GRU (Russia's military intelligence agency) special unit, which was involved in acts of sabotage in Europe during the 2010s. Their findings reveal that many of these former saboteurs have, in recent years, assumed high-ranking civilian positions in various regions of Russia.

In particular, Nikolai Yezhov, currently the chief federal inspector of Magadan Oblast, and Rustam Jafarov, Putin's first deputy representative in Russia's Far East region, were implicated in a sabotage operation in Bulgaria in 2011. They were associated with Sergei Chepiga, who was suspected of poisoning former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in 2018. Together, they orchestrated an explosion at an ammunition depot in the mountain village of Lovnidol in Bulgaria. This depot stored over 3,000 Soviet-made artillery munitions, which, it was believed, Georgia might have been interested in acquiring for use against Russia.

In 2015, another explosion took place in a warehouse in Bulgaria, this time in Iganovo, where missiles and grenades were stored for the armed forces of Ukraine. A few days prior, Nikolai Yezhov, along with Ivan Terentyev, who would later become the federal inspector for Sakhalin region, had arrived in the country. All evidence related to this explosion was obliterated in a fire at the Sofia Forensic Medical Center, but the trail leads to a GRU special unit. Another participant in these sabotage operations, Sergei Romanov, later transitioned into a diplomatic role as a member of the Trade Delegation of the Russian Federation in Thailand.

This trend of former military security forces personnel transitioning into public service continues. For instance, ex-military personnel who fought in Ukraine are now considering careers as teachers in schools.

Meanwhile, officials from Russian regions are traveling to front-line areas, where they are being photographed wearing military uniforms and holding weapons.

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