The plot thickens, as we delve deeper into that unique Circle of Hell known as the Ukraine. Today I have this piece from KP, by reporter Alexander Grishin. Who has done a wonderful job summarizing and trying to make sense of the Byzantine world of Spies and Traitors who infest the Kiev regime. Readers may consider this a continuation of my previous (but one) post, where we met that handsome man, Mr. Maliuk. But this story is not about him, it’s about several other colorful figures who populate this unique landscape.
Zelensky’s loud proclamations about spies and traitors within the SBU, have a goodly dose of factual basis. In truth, even before Bakanov’s removal, quite a lot of spies were caught red-handed.
Take, for example (please!), Bakanov’s “right-hand man”, a hairy slob named General Andrei Naumov. Ex-General Naumov, to be precise, since Zelensky removed that guy’s military title already back on March 31. Please recall that Bakanov is/was Zelensky’s childhood friend and fellow comedian, and was placed in charge of the SBU. For play dates he was awarded two main underlings, Naumov and Maliuk. Each one to keep his eye on the other, as per Byzantine standards.
Then a funny thing happened on the way to the war: On the very night before the Russian invasion (night of Feb 23-24) Bakanov and Naumov suddenly took a powder. Together. No, I don’t mean cocaine, I am using that American idiom “take a powder”, which means “get out of Dodge.” It’s almost as if they knew something was going down. So they fled from Kiev to Germany (together, along with a few others from their coterie) just the night before the Russians “Special Operated” into the Ukraine. Bakanov eventually returned to his post in Kiev, but Naumov never came back. One must add that Naumov had previously removed his family from the Ukraine, several weeks earlier.
The reporter Grishin asks the logical question: Could Naumov have known about Moscow’s plans? If he was a valued Russian spy, then possibly so. Given his various appointments in the government, and particularly his post in the SBU’s “Internal Investigations” Division, this is the part of the SBU that monitors the rest of the SBU, so they are particularly feared. People in the know referred to Naumov as “Bakanov’s wallet”, and Bakanov as “Zelensky’s wallet”. (In American jargon they would be called “bagmen”.) Indeed, Bakanov was the signatory under whose name Zelensky’s offshores are registered. The offshores (mainly in Cyprus?) are the places where this gang stashes their hard-earned cash. It’s clearly a pyramid scheme, of sorts, and the Big Guy always gets his cut.
Like we said, Bakanov was soon coaxed back from Germany to Kiev (Zelensky getting on the horn and demanding, in his raspy voice, that his childhood pal Ivanushka has to return), but Naumov never returned. On June 10 he was detained (by Serbian border guards) on the Serbian-Macedonian border, while in the company of a well-known “contrabandist”, a German citizen named Alexander Akst. While searching them, in a scene right out of Ilf/Petrov’s The Little Golden Calf, Serbian cops found precious jewels and a wad of cash worth $800K American dollars. It goes without saying that the Serbians confiscated most of the loot, but it has not been recorded whether they allowed Naumov to keep his precious “Order of the Golden Fleece”.
Naumov’s ties with Akst (who goes under the call sign “Sasha the German”) were well-known to Ukrainian police and SBU. This connection was very lucrative, benefitting not just Naumov but also feeding many of his underlings who comprised lower-ranking members of his gang. Some estimates claim this combination with Akst netted the gang around $3 million American dollars per month. And that was only one scheme, of many.
Now that Naumov has fled from the Ukraine, we are still left with various questions, such as, Was that guy really a Russian spy? And if so, who else did he sell information to? I can believe that Naumov was a Russian agent, but personally, I am a bit dubious that the Russian High Command would have trusted him enough to share their invasion plans: “Psst! We attack at dawn tomorrow. Don’t tell anybody else.” At that point I think everybody knew that the invasion was going to happen, even the Americans knew the exact date and time. So Naumov/Bakanov could have learned about it from literally anyone. And decided they had better whisk at least some of their loot out of the country before the Russians come knocking on the door. That’s what bagmen do.
Without A Shot Fired
Moving along to various other spies and traitors, in this case guys who either switched sides too quickly, or just handed over their provinces to the Russians without firing a shot. Take, for example, Sergei Krivoruchko. His name says it all: in Russian his name means “Twisted Hand”. General Krivoruchko headed the SBU in Kherson at the time the Russians walzed in. Not only did Sergei not fire his pistol at them, it is claimed that he even supplied them with a map showing where the land mines had been placed. So the Russian soldiers could just skate in without blowing themselves up. (Shocking!)
Or take Roman Dudin, former head of the Kharkov SBU. Zelensky recently fired him. He wasn’t accuse of treason, per se, just effing around and not paying enough attention to his wartime duties. Khalatnost, in other words.
Or take Major-General Valery Shaitanov, of the SBU. Who was arrested on the charge of collaborating with Russian secret services, and also plotting to assassinate the Chechen Adam Osmaev. Shaitanov was accused of picking out cadres to work for the Russian FSB, in other words, organizing a Russian spy network within the SBU. This happened back in 2020. In Chechen, by the way, from what I understand, “Shaitan” means “demon”, it literally comes from the word for Satan.
The Kulinich Case
Or take a man named Oleg Kulinich. (Take him, please!) In October 2020 Zelensky appointed this angel-faced guy as head of the SBU of the “Virtual Government” (i.e., government-in-exile) of Russian-occupied Crimea. He was resident in Kherson. Ruling over a province that goes on about its business without you, receiving a nice paycheck for no job duties, that’s a sweet gig, as I have said before. Sweet, but also sad, because it’s almost like they don’t need you, or you don’t even exist.
After the Russian invasion and take-over of Kherson, Zelensky sacked Kulinich (on March 2). But here is the juicy part: Zelensky’s buddy Bakanov then took Kulinich under his own wing, appointing him as “Assistant for Important Assignments” (по особо важным поручениям) under which Kulinich continued to exert influence within the SBU. (And maybe took over some bagman duties that Naumov used to do? I am just speculating here.)
This drama took a new turn last week (July 16) when Kulinich was arrested and accused of working for the Russian secret services. In defending himself, Kulinich testified that he had tried to warn Bakanov about the Russian invasion, “but he wouldn’t listen to me.” In addition to his other connections, Kulinich is very close to a Rada (Parliament) Deputy named Andrei Derkach. Yes, that same notorious Derkach who posted documents and audio tapes compromising former Ukrainian President Poroshenko and then Vice-President Joe Biden. This matter concerned all the kompromat surrounding Hunter Biden and Burisma, and all that jazz. Derkach was labelled a “Russian agent” even at that time. And Kulinich is clearly Derkach’s person. The two men go way back, at least as far as 2010 when they engaged in some shady real estate schemes together, in the region of Koncha-Zaspe.
And the list goes on… Too many to mention. All these SBU guys who are accused of being Russian agents, and many of them may be just that; it’s not all just empty paranoia. It’s more fair to say that the SBU is riddled with corruptioneers and criminals; spying for Russia is probably just another side-scheme to bring in some extra cash, these are not necessarily ideology-driven True Believers who dream of restoring the Russian Empire of Catherine the Great. Hardly.
Where the paranoia stings is that, as the hysteria increases, completely innocent, ordinary people are being sucked into this witch-hunt. Just like in 1936-37 in the Soviet Union, when Stalin’s intrigues against his elite political opponents, unleashed a storm of denunciations that sucked in thousands of ordinary people who had nothing to do with any of that. Including one of my ancestors, who was shot in 1938.
For example, in Vinnitsia recently, after the Russian rocket attack, the local SBU rounded up “300 agents of Putin” who included ordinary workers, trades people at the market, people just passing by, and so on. Who were accused of providing markers (like flares, or something like that) to Russian bombers, to mark the spot. As if Russian cruise missiles needed spotters. This is very unfortunate and I feel badly for those rounded up in this manner; but mass witch-hunts in a troubled regime, have a murderous logic of their own.
As for the SBU “Generals and Colonels”, one may stipulate, and Grishin makes the point, that quite a lot of them may indeed be spies and traitors. But only for money. These are the kind of people who would work with anybody, be it Columbian drug lords, Middle Eastern terrorists, or Russian special services. Anybody who will pay them in suitcases full of cash.