Russian diplomats expelled from Belgium for espionage turned out to be connected with the GRU – Dossier Center

The Russian diplomats expelled in March from the Russian Embassy in Belgium, who were suspected of spying, really turned out to be connected with the special services, in particular, among the 21 employees there are specialists in satellite and electronic intelligence and Russians registered at the headquarters of the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces (Main Intelligence Directorate, GRU). Biographies 14 of the 21 expelled embassy staff were established by the Dossier Center in cooperation with the Belgian publication EUobserver.

The highest-ranking on the list was the embassy adviser   Alexey Kuksov.   After graduating from a military school in 2001, he served in military unit 54726, which is part of the GRU, in 2005 the military unit was liquidated and the Center for Research on the Military Potential of Foreign Countries (CIVPZS) was created on its basis. This center receives all the information obtained by intelligence about the state of the armies of foreign countries, especially important reports go straight to the head of military intelligence, Igor Kostyukov, who prepares reports for Vladimir Putin and Secretary of the Security Council Nikolai Patrushev.

In addition, Alexei Kozhevnikov, who held the post of attaché at the Russian embassy, ​​was on the list. The center established from the Moscow traffic police database that Kozhevnikov registered his cars at the address: Volokolamsk Highway, 56, where the 162nd Center for Military-Technical Information, known as the “T-500 Object”, is located. The officers of this center are engaged in electronic, space and radio intelligence, intercept data from American and European satellites.

Another embassy attache, Dmitry Chulaev, studied at the Faculty of Aircraft Radio Electronics of the Moscow Aviation Institute (MAI), and in 2000 got a job at Jackpot LLC, which owned a large network of casinos and gaming clubs in Russia. Investigators suggested that at the Russian embassy in Brussels, Chulaev was responsible for uninterrupted communications with Moscow. They clarified that the owners of the casino where Chulaev worked at that time invested heavily in the creation of satellite communications in order to conduct electronic lotteries and deploy a network of sweepstakes and bookmakers. To do this, they established LLC (Sputnik Telecommunication Entertainment Company), inviting former GRU military space intelligence officers Alexei Miroshnichenko and Oleg Kuts to the leadership, who attracted graduates of technical universities, including Chulaev.

Embassy counselor Sergei Zemledeltsev and two attachés Nikita Ostroverkhy and Alexei Strelkov also left the embassy. Ostroverkhy was previously registered at the headquarters of the GRU at 76 "b" Khoroshevskoye Shosse, and Zemledeltsev was registered in the officer's dormitory of the Military Diplomatic Academy (VDA) on Narodnogo Opolcheniya Street. They train military intelligence personnel for work abroad.

In addition, journalists drew attention to the expelled embassy electrician Igor Taut. He received a diploma from the Moscow Technical University of Communications and Informatics (MTUSI), which is closely associated with the Russian special services. Since 2018, MTUCI has been headed by a graduate of the FSB Academy, Sergei Erokhin, who previously served in the Scientific and Technical Service of the FSB. The supply manager of the Russian Embassy in Belgium, Ivan Kvasha, graduated from the 1st faculty (strategic undercover intelligence) of the ACA and wears the shoulder straps of a GRU colonel, a source in the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

A retired GRU officer, who asked not to be named, said that now the work of Russian military intelligence in Belgium is practically paralyzed for many years. He clarified that he did not know how things were with the SVR and the FSB, but the GRU was left without "hearers" and satellite intelligence specialists.

At the end of March, it became known that the Netherlands was expelling 17 Russian diplomats, and Belgium - 21 Russian diplomats. Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra reported that the country was expelling "scouts seconded to Russian missions in the Netherlands under diplomatic cover." These people, he said, pose a security risk.

Russian diplomats began to be expelled due to suspicions of espionage at the beginning of the year. At the end of January, Germany declared a Russian diplomat persona non grata over suspicions of espionage. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Austria, Germany, Bulgaria, Sweden, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Luxembourg announced the expulsion of Russian diplomats, and 480 Russians turned out to be persona non grata.

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