Last weekend, Russians were shocked by a car bomb was killed instantly Daughter of ultra-nationalist political theorist Alexander Dugin, one of Vladimir Putin’s closest friends. The images showed Daria Dugina’s Toyota Land Cruiser glowing in the dark, as her father – also known as Putin’s brain – stood a few feet away in shock, holding his head in his hands.
Dugin’s death outside Moscow followed another strange incident in Washington, DC, just over a week earlier. A Putin critic of Soviet origin living in exile in the United States “Jumped” to his death. From his posh apartment building in an upscale neighborhood of the capital. The man who jumped was Dan Rapoport, a businessman who has been a vocal critic of Putin and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Both deaths sound like something out of a Tom Clancy novel. But the world of Russian espionage is stranger than fiction.
D.C. police are not treating Rapoport’s death as suspicious, but it’s right out of Putin’s playbook. Russia has been behind many targeted killings since the Soviet era. Bullets to the back of the head, poisoning, forced suicide and other complicated forms of violent death are all part of the “wet affair” – or bloodshed theory.
It is too early to say conclusively who is responsible for the death of Kremlin propagandist Dugin. Russia’s spy agency FSB Blamed Ukraine Ukraine blamed Russia’s anti-war resistance for the attack was responsible. But some believe that Putin and his supporters may be behind the attack, arguing that the martyrdom of the only son of a great ally is an excellent excuse to escalate an even tougher attack on Ukraine, six months into the war.
While it is highly unlikely that Putin would kill the son of a Mother Russia nationalist compatriot who is at the heart of the ideology that underpins his war on Ukraine, he has used unthinkable tactics against his own people in the past. Many believe that he gave orders to FSB officers Bomb apartment buildings In Moscow, between 200 and 300 residents were killed in 1999, with Chechen terrorists blamed for the attacks and Russia A reason for starting a war On Chechnya. Putin’s popularity as Prime Minister increased and that helped him Won the Russian presidency In March 2000.
These dirty deeds – or “special operations” – are carried out by Russian military intelligence operatives and include assassinations, kidnappings, poisonings, “forced suicides” and other intimidation and murder. Throwing the victim out the window or jumping the victim is a common tactic with car explosions and other tragic accidents.
The forces behind these “special tasks” are highly trained so that no foul play takes place. According to A 1993 CIA documentEven “in cases where the Soviet hand is clear, investigations often produce only fragmentary information, because of the KGB’s ability to cover its tracks.”
In 2002, Putin, a former KGB operative, began practicing “Wet Events” and “Special Tasks” By passing federal law, “On countering extreme activity.” The law authorizes targeted killings for “extremist activities”, including “crimes” such as “undermining national prestige” and “slandering or falsely accusing persons holding Russian government positions”.
Many Russian journalists and political opponents have fallen victim to the law. After journalist Anna Politkovskaya reported on atrocities committed by her country’s forces during the Second Chechen War (1999-2009), she was. Shot dead In the elevator of her apartment on Putin’s birthday in October 2006. Boris Nemtsov, former Russian Deputy Prime Minister and staunch critic of Putin. Shot on the bridge Near the Kremlin in February 2015.
Then there’s Alexander Litvinenko, a former FSB intelligence officer who moved to England and did contract work for British intelligence. In 2006, Litvinenko was murdered Two Russian GRU operatives who met him at a luxury London hotel gave him a cup of tea laced with the radioactive agent polonium.
Some unconfirmed cases have also occurred in people on US soil.
In November 2015, Mikhail Lesin, a former Russian media executive and Putin adviser, found dead In a Washington, DC, hotel. Lessin’s death came a day before he was to be interviewed by the Justice Department about the Kremlin-funded media company, RT, which he founded. In October 2016, he was pronounced dead “AccidentalWashington and by the US Attorney’s Office for the Metropolitan Police Department. But an official from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner revealed that Lessin’s neck bone was fractured in such a way that “Usually associated with hanging or manual strangulation.”
In US intelligence circles, it is believed that Lessin was the victim of a Russian hit job.
In March 2007, another Kremlin critic, former CIA officer Paul Joyal, Surviving a brutal attack near his home in Maryland. Joyal was shot in the thigh four days after explaining that Putin and the Kremlin were behind Litvinenko’s murder during a Dateline NBC broadcast. Even the FBI Initially investigated Attack, they dropped the case and the culprits were never found. Joel believes he was the victim of another Russian hit job.
It is doubtful that DC law enforcement will devote the necessary time and resources to investigate Rapoport’s “suicide” this month. It took more than 10 years for British investigators to conclude that Russian intelligence officers were responsible for Litvinenko’s assassination on British soil.
And it may be true that some of Putin’s critics have deliberately jumped high to their deaths. But usually they have helpers.
Rebecca Koffler, president of Doctrine and Strategy Consulting, is a former DIA intelligence officer and “Putin’s Playbook: Russia’s Secret Plan to Defeat America.”