The Phantoms of the Soviet may be found making messes and stumbling around the places long associated with the Soviet Bloc, its captive states, sphere of influence, and its key trading partners, all linked then by their devotion to a nominal “Communism” and a realpolitik of theft by Party elites, the “nomenklatura” that effectively ran — or rubber-stamped policy — through the Soviet Era. The basket cases that come most quickly to mind: Crimea, Ukraine; Syria, whatever is left of it; Venezuela, where the well-behaved “socialists” beneath the boot of the Maduro regime have been reduced to starvation and flight while the mafia and military and state officials continue to clean up quite nicely between shipments of cocaine bound for El Norte and sex slaves trafficked out to the Caribbean Basin or beyond it.
The Phantom — and the phantoms — have multiple roles to play as the world either continues winding down down into feudal chaos, which is the way some (with the loot) would seem to have it, or as it turns and with anger and resolve recovers from the “Active Measures”, “Hybrid Warfare”, and “Reflexive Control” methods that have brought post-Cold War East-West Conflict back to life with frightful — and unfolding — prospects for the world’s future.
Moscow has returned itself and much that it touches back to political horror. It has been arming the Taliban in Afghanistan; committing murder in Great Britain (and elsewhere); courting Islam and brutalizing it at the same time (in a cosmic sense); ditto for Turkey; and to what end? Only God and Putin know, and of the two and who might know Russia’s future best, I’d rake the chips over to Putin.
Alexander Litvinenko, Boris Berezovsky, Sergei Skripal come to mind as victims of “hits” by Russian security forces operating on British soil, but other deaths have been similarly associated with or suspect in relation to Russian operations.
Earlier this week, we revealed that US spy agencies had handed the British government high-grade intelligence that the Russian whistleblower Alexander Perepilichnyy, who died in Surrey in 2012, was likely assassinated on the direct orders of the Kremlin – but the authorities sidelined that and other evidence pointing to murder, instead declaring that he had died of natural causes. Today, we can reveal that US intelligence officials suspect a further 13 people – including Berezovsky and eight members of his circle – have been assassinated on British soil by Russia’s security services or mafia groups, two forces that sometimes work in tandem.Blake, Heidi. “From Russia with Blood: The Kremlin’s Ruthless Assassination Program and Vladimir Putin’s Secret War on The West.” BuzzFeed News, June 15, 2017.
The same would seem to be the work of the “phantoms of the Soviet” — GRU, KGB/FSB not only remain in business as in the Soviet Era but may be perhaps insufficiently challenged on their host’s turf. ” The story of this ring of death illuminates one of the most disturbing geopolitical trends of our time – the use of assassinations by Russia’s secret services and powerful mafia groups to wipe out opponents around the globe – and the failure of British authorities to confront it,” wrote Blake back in 2017.
So here on the anniversary of the official announcing of the passing of the Soviet Union into Russia’s history — and the world’s — it would seem the more nefarious of old habits — creating wars, operating in the shadows, dominating and plundering political space with barbarous violence and ruthless ambition remain intact — and, according to BuzzFeed, more covered over by authorities than given the play deserved.
Albaladejo, Angelika. “Transnational Sex Trafficking Rings Cash In on Venezuela Crisis.” InSight Crime, June 28, 2018.
Bellingcat Investigative Team. “The Dreadful Eight: GRU’s Unit 29155 and the 2015 Poisoning of Emilian Gebrev. Bellingcat, November 23, 2019.
Blake, Heidi. “From Russia with Blood: The Kremlin’s Ruthless Assassination Program and Vladimir Putin’s Secret War on The West.” BuzzFeed News, June 15, 2017.
Clibbon, Jennifer. “New Gorbachev biography profiles reformer who helped end Cold War but has no place in today’s Russia.” CBC, October 15, 2017. Book review of William Taubman’s Gorbachev: His Life and Times (W.W. Norton & Company, 2017).
Cooke, Phoebe. “‘It Wasn’t Suicide’ Daughter of Billionaire Scot Young who plunged to his death from fourth-floor balcony claims he was MURDERED by Russian mafia.” The Sun, April 10, 2019.
Leon, Melissa. “Russia must withdraw troops from Ukraine, NATO chief says.” Fox News, October 31, 2019.
Mohan, Megha and Nina Nazarova. “Olga Misik: Russia’s ‘Tienanmen teen’ protester on front line. BBC World Service, August 7, 2019.
Moloney, Anastasia. “Venezuelan child migrants, women fall prey to human traffickers in Peru.” Reuters, March 12, 2019.
Schwirtz, Michael. “Top Secret Russian Unit Seeks to Destabilize Europe, Security Officials Say.” The New York Times, October 8, 2019.
“I think we had forgotten how organically ruthless the Russians could be,” said Peter Zwack, a retired military intelligence officer and former defense attaché at the United States Embassy in Moscow, who said he was not aware of the unit’s existence.
Venezuela Investigative Unit. “How Venezuela Shipwrecks Revealed Sex Trafficking Ring.” InSight Crime, June 5, 2019.
Walsh, Nick Paton, Natalie Gallon, and Diana Castrillon. “Corruption in Venezuela has created a cocaine superhighway to the US.” CNN World, April 17, 2019.
Wikipedia. “List of Soviet and Russian Assassinations”.
Yee, Vivian; Merideth Kohut, Photographer. “What ‘Victory’ Looks Like: A Journey Through Shattered Syria.” The New York Times, August 21, 2019.
Related in Books
Bukovsky, Vladimir. Judgment in Moscow: Soviet Crimes and Western Complicity. California, 2019.
Gaddis, John Lewis. The Cold War: A New History. New York: The Penguin Press, 2005.
Grigas, Agnia. Beyond Crimea: The New Russian Empire. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2016.
Pipes, Richard. Russia Under the Old Regime: The History of Civilization. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1974.
Pipes, Richard. The Russian Revolution. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990.
Polishchuk, Arkady. Dancing on Thin Ice. Los Angeles, Doppel House Press, 2018.
Remnick, David. Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire. New York: Random House, 1993.
Smith, Hedrick. The Russians. New York: Times Books, 1983.
Soldatov, Andrei and Irena Borogan. The New Nobility: The Restoration of Russia’s Security State and the Enduring Legacy of the KGB. New York: Public Affairs, 2010.
For additional volumes, see the “Russian Section” of the library that has accompanied the development of this blog.
And who can forget Georgi Markov?!