Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Russia: Cause of GRU Spy Chief's Demise Apparently Was Death

On Monday I mentioned in passing:
Sorry about the disappearing act, I was trying to put on the risk manager hat and the damn thing doesn't fit anymore.

And the head of Russian military intelligence is dead with no explanation.
Of course the GRU makes the NSA look like a bunch of gossipy old ladies so I shouldn't be too surprised.... 
Today we read at Fort Russ: 

Cause of Igor Sergun's Death Revealed 
Forensic medical examination has shown that the 58 year old General-major Igor Sergun died of acute heart failure.

The doctors who conducted the autopsy on the body of General Sergun, who died on the 3rd of January in the Moscow region, made preliminary conclusions about the causes of his death. According to sources familiar with the situation, the doctors concluded that the body of 58-year-old man was overworked.

"One of the reasons for his death was fatigue: over-processing, not getting enough sleep were all accompanying signs and "symptoms," commented a source in medical circles.

However, as it became known to LifeNews, the official cause of death was called acute heart failure.

The head of the Main intelligence Directorate of the General staff of the Armed forces of the Russian Federation, Igor Dmitriyevich Sergun died on the 3rd of January in his house in the Podolsk district of the Moscow region.
Not very informative, hence our headline.
Stratfor has a look from a different angle: 
A Mysterious Death Raises Questions in Russia
Intrigues within the Kremlin reignited Monday after the chief of Russia's military intelligence service, Igor Sergun, died unexpectedly. Sergun was a relatively unknown figure who kept a very low profile over his 30-year career, despite the fact that his position at the head of the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) of the General Staff of the Armed Forces made him one of the most powerful figures in Russian security.

Sergun came to power in 2011, at a time when the GRU's position was under attack by the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Foreign Intelligence Service — both of which were attempting to gain control of, or at least influence in, intelligence operations in Russia's borderlands. Sergun was able to consolidate the GRU, fortifying the military intelligence service's position among the security groups.

Russia's various security services have long vied with one another for power. Even though Russian President Vladimir Putin served in the FSB (known at the time as the KGB), he has not always let the agency have its way. Putin has tried to keep a balance among the various services — a difficult feat in a world of intrigue and espionage. That balance has been off for the past two years, mainly because of events in Ukraine. Moscow's failure to anticipate the overthrow of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich and the installation of a pro-West government in Kiev in early 2014 largely fell on the FSB. The service reportedly was restructured by mid-2014, and the GRU gained more responsibility for intelligence inside Ukraine — a humiliation for the FSB. The GRU and FSB wrestled with each other during the remainder of 2014 and all of 2015 over control of ground intelligence in Ukraine.

Evidence of the behind-the-scenes struggles could be seen in the turnover of pro-Russian separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine and in sporadic reports from Ukrainian intelligence.

However, the FSB's recent problems go beyond Ukraine. The security service has fought to maintain its position within Russia, particularly Chechnya, and to keep one of its most lucrative assets, Rosneft, afloat financially. The FSB's problems could be connected to Putin's mysterious disappearance in March 2015 and to the assassination of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.

Recent developments provide few details about the current state of the power struggle. Four months ago, rumors circulated in Russian media that one of the GRU's biggest backers, Vladislav Surkov, lost the Ukraine portfolio once again. Surkov, alongside Sergun, had been instrumental in implementing Russia's so-called hybrid warfare strategy in eastern Ukraine and in coordinating the separatist leaders throughout the year. Over the weekend, a Ukrainian intelligence source claimed that the FSB was back in eastern Ukraine working with the separatist leaders. This would indicate a strengthening of the FSB's position....MORE