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Dear Kremlin: Expelled GRU spies bemoan lack of decent jobs and kindergarten slots in Russia

On November 5, Russia celebrates Military Intelligence Day. As tradition dictates, a formal assembly takes place at the GRU headquarters on Khoroshevskoye Shosse, complete with the ceremonial recognition of generals. However, for the intelligence officers, especially those who have been expelled from Europe, the occasion is far from festive. The Insider has come into possession of a collective petition penned by GRU personnel and addressed to Putin. In this document, they express their concerns regarding the scarcity of suitable employment opportunities and the lack of available spaces in Moscow’s schools and kindergartens. The signatories are profoundly disheartened by an incident where an officer’s spouse was offered a job as a pizza delivery driver. Moreover, they voice their dissatisfaction with journalists who, in their opinion, fail to adequately portray the heroic deeds of their fallen comrades from the GRU assault brigades in Ukraine.

  • “The Brits are causing trouble”

  • Operational ingenuity and proactive intelligence efforts

  • Misguided journalists

  • “For the officers' families, the sudden departure from Europe became a personal tragedy”

The Insider's source within the Presidential Administration, who made available the complaint, has concealed the identities of the signatories out of fear of being identified and prosecuted for disclosing classified information. However, the blacked-out names belong to 11 GRU officers, including the deputy commander of the unit who promised to resolve the issues for the individuals expelled from Europe, as well as the officer's spouse who took offense at the suggestion of working as a pizza delivery driver.

“The Brits are causing trouble”

The signatories began their complaint by expressing their grievances about certain “Western commentators” who they believe are inflicting “significant harm to our country and the Russian Military Intelligence” through recent articles:

“Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich, in recent times, several pro-Western and international media outlets have been publishing articles that accuse the officers of the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Federation of incompetence and inaction, sometimes even gross unprofessionalism. Some online commentators have gone so far as to claim widespread drunkenness and debauchery within the leadership of Russia's Military Intelligence, as well as a deliberate distortion of information provided to the Ministry of Defense and the government in the lead-up to the Special Military Operation in Ukraine. Vladimir Vladimirovich, these unfounded fantasies are causing significant harm to our nation, the Military Intelligence of Russia, and are deliberate fabrications by Western commentators.”

The Insider couldn't locate any commentators in open Western sources who were reporting on “widespread drunkenness and debauchery among GRU generals.” However, a search through confidential police records reveals that GRU personnel have been involved in multiple altercations, drunken disturbances, and incidents of state property damage. For instance, on March 5, 2014, the duty shift at the GRU headquarters celebrated the “incorporation” of Crimea into Russia.

GRU personnel have been involved in multiple altercations, drunken disturbances, and incidents of state property damage

Lieutenant Colonel Georgy Gornofeyev fell asleep with a lit cigarette in the armory room. This led to Gornofeyev suffocating in the smoke, while two other officers ended up disabled. The fire also completely destroyed the armory, three offices with valuable office equipment, and a secret archive containing operational reports from undercover agents, military attaches, and “diplomats” operating under the guise of Russian embassies. The total damage caused by the fire amounted to 12 million rubles, yet no official investigation or dismissals followed.

Georgy Gornofeyev's grave
Georgy Gornofeyev's grave
Dossier Center

Operational ingenuity and proactive intelligence efforts

Furthermore, the complainants write:

“The Russian Military Intelligence, both domestically and abroad, meticulously monitored the developments inside Ukraine and provided timely reports to the country's leadership in preparation for the Special Military Operation (SMO). Thanks to their operational acumen and proactive intelligence efforts, our military intelligence officers managed to discern the locations, strengths, and armament of many units within the Ukrainian Armed Forces well before the initiation of the SMO. They obtained mobilization and operational plans of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, identified the positions, names, and home addresses of... <names redacted - The Insider>.

It is no secret that Ukraine had been infiltrated by agents of Russian intelligence long before the war. Consider the arrest of SBU General Valery Shaitanov in 2020, who was passing highly classified information to his handler Igor Yegorov from the 5th Service of the FSB.

Moreover, before the invasion commenced, the GRU residency reported the actual political situation in Ukraine to the Kremlin, emphasizing in their confidential reports that no one intended to welcome Russian tanks with flowers.

Before the invasion commenced, the GRU residency reported the actual political situation in Ukraine to the Kremlin

However, Putin placed more trust in reports from his confidant Viktor Medvedchuk, who was later exchanged for captured Azov fighters. He also trusted the exiled former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and former Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov, both of whom had fled to Russia. They continuously assured Putin that the entire Ukrainian population eagerly awaited their liberator from the Kyiv regime.

Viktor Medvedchuk after his arrest
Viktor Medvedchuk after his arrest

The icing on the cake was the failure of the Ninth Division of the Fifth Service of the FSB, responsible for recruiting local politicians in Ukraine, to form a “fifth column” that was supposed to align with the Kremlin during a full-scale invasion. However, as we now see, the efficacy of the FSB's espionage network was, to put it mildly, exaggerated (which didn't prevent the FSB general responsible for the failed invasion preparation from acquiring hundreds of millions in real estate).

Misguided journalists

In their letter, the GRU agents expelled from Europe remind Putin about the fallen soldiers from the GRU assault brigades in Ukraine. They allege that “amateurish media” have supposedly failed to acknowledge their heroism. This claim, to put it mildly, does not align with reality and clearly misleads Putin. Despite stringent military censorship, detailed information about the “exploits” of these special forces is readily available in various media outlets and on social media.

For instance, the deputy commander of the 16th Tambov Brigade of GRU special forces (military unit 54607), mentioned in the complaint, Major Dmitry Semyonov, and Lieutenant Ilya Samosudov were killed in battles on the Kharkiv front. Samosudov died on May 20, 2022, and Semyonov was killed eight days later. Both were buried with honors in their homeland, and this was reported by many Z-bloggers and other pro-government media outlets.

Major Azamat Alimov from the Samara Brigade of GRU (military unit 21208), mentioned by the complainants, passed away on March 3, 2022, from shrapnel wounds. As reported by the media, Alimov had previously served in Syria before Ukraine, played the guitar, and independently learned French and Portuguese. Komsomolskaya Pravda even published an interview with Alimov's widow. Alongside Alimov, Captain Valery Karasev and Junior Sergeant Yegor Bukatkin also lost their lives. However, for some reason, the complainants omitted to mention them.

Captain Fyodor Panov was killed on July 27, 2022, and Lieutenant Vasily Solak on May 8 of the same year. Both served in the Novosibirsk GRU special forces (military unit 55433). A documentary film has already been made about Solak. The complainants seemed to overlook other deceased members of the Siberian GRU special forces: section commander Yuri Reznik, Lieutenant Ruslan Usmanov, two sappers, Danila Diky, Angyr Oorzhaak, sniper Ivan Ditrikh, and submarine miner Leonid Glynsky. Additionally, nine more assault soldiers perished during the retreat from Lyman.

By the way, the Siberian GRU special forces were accused of cruelty towards civilians. However, Putin bestowed the honorary title of Guards upon this military unit.

Putin bestowed the honorary title of Guards upon the military unit accused of cruelty towards civilians

Another officer mentioned in the letter, Senior Lieutenant Maxim Serafimov from the Pskov Brigade of GRU, sustained fatal injuries on February 27, 2022. According to propagandists, Serafimov allegedly shielded his comrades by throwing himself on a grenade, saving their lives, for which Putin posthumously conferred upon him the title of Hero of Russia.

However, even Z-bloggers labeled this battle as a “shame and a black day for the GRU special forces.” They demanded that the generals who had sent their subordinates to certain death be brought to justice. As previously reported by The Insider, there is no evidence to support the claim that Serafimov sacrificed himself on a grenade, and the actual events during the battle significantly differ from the official version.

Special forces were ordered to enter Kharkiv and unite with pro-Russian local militias. However, they did not encounter any pro-Russian volunteers and ended up wandering blindly through the city. Soon, fighters from the 92nd Ukrainian Armed Forces Brigade, the police special forces unit Kord, and the Omega territorial defense unit arrived, blocking the assault group.

Abandoning their Tiger armored vehicles and half of their ammunition, the fighters sought refuge in School No. 134. The unit waited for reinforcements for almost 10 hours, but no one came to their aid. Ukrainian military personnel three times offered the special forces to surrender over their captured radio, but they refused. Eventually, a Ukrainian tank fired directly at the school. Besides Serafimov, 19 more fighters were killed, and five were captured by local residents.

Damaged Tiger armored vehicles
Damaged Tiger armored vehicles

Moreover, the circumstances of the deaths of the captains Alexey Glushak and Vadim Lugovoy (the actual name of Captain Lugovoy from military unit 11659 was Eugene), who served in the 22nd GRU Brigade from Rostov-on-Don, came to light through media reports. In early March 2022, their group fell into an ambush on the outskirts of Mariupol, set up by the fighters of the Azov regiment. In total, 11 special forces soldiers were killed, and two dozen were wounded. Their comrades set up a monument to honor the fallen, and later, propagandists publicized their deaths.

So, there is no truth to the claims of suppression that the GRU agents are complaining to Putin about. It is more likely that the Ministry of Defense is itself concealing the real losses in Ukraine, and some journalists and bloggers have faced criminal charges for spreading “fakes” about the Russian army.

“For the officers' families, the sudden departure from Europe became a personal tragedy”

At the end of the letter, the authors complain that they were expelled from prosperous Europe:

“Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich, as you are well aware, after the start of the special military operation, the countries of the European Union succumbed to the influence of their overseas masters and declared diplomatic warfare against our country. Many intelligence officers, who were performing a challenging and often risky service in the diplomatic missions of the Russian Federation, were forced to leave European countries.
For many of the officers' families, the unexpected departure from diplomatic missions became a personal tragedy and gave rise to numerous problems. We are told to be patient, and that everything will be resolved in the near future. Many wives, almost all of whom have higher education, have taken up employment on their own, but there are simply no decent jobs or salaries available.”

This part appears to be accurate. After Putin's invasion of Ukraine, 698 Russian diplomats were expelled from EU countries, and nearly half of them were career officers from the GRU, SVR, and FSB. Such a colossal intelligence failure has not occurred in the history of modern Russia. Moreover, as The Insider revealed, they had not yet fully resettled the “diplomats” expelled from the EU and the USA in 2021 when new personae non gratae were added in 2022-2023.

698 Russian diplomats were expelled from EU countries, nearly half of them career officers from the GRU, SVR, and FSB

Efforts are being made to find positions for the expelled officers in Russian embassies in Africa, Asia, South America, and CIS countries. However, even there, everything is occupied by their colleagues and “neighbors” from the SVR and FSB, and no one is willing to vacate their established positions. This situation requires either expanding embassy staff or reducing the number of employees at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Still, as The Insider's source in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reports, “Minister Lavrov strongly objects and resists.”

It is worth noting that Russian spies themselves blatantly violate security and covertness protocols, sharing entire photo galleries from restaurants and resorts on social media. Their spouses also boast about their purchases. Therefore, it's not surprising that Western counterintelligence easily identifies Russian “diplomats” and their whereabouts.

Intelligence officer Alexey Frolov and his spouse were expelled from the Netherlands in 2022
Intelligence officer Alexey Frolov and his spouse were expelled from the Netherlands in 2022
Dmitry Barabin and his spouse were both denied entry into the EU
Dmitry Barabin and his spouse were both denied entry into the EU

As for the part of the letter where the signatories complain about the lack of well-paid jobs in Russia for their wives and the “insulting” offers to deliver pizza, it seems that there is little reason to be surprised. After the aggression against Ukraine, many well-known Western companies left Russia, and medium and small businesses are facing challenging times. Large businesses are burdened with taxes, and most of the “desirable” positions in major state corporations have been taken by relatives, friends, and mistresses of high-ranking officials from the presidential administration, ministries, and the FSB.

The Insider contacted some GRU personnel whose names are redacted in the complaint, but they stated that they did not sign any collective appeals to Putin. One suggested that “it's not the officers themselves, but their wives who are stirring the pot.”

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