When Alexei Navalny was poisoned in Tomsk last August, it was by an FSB team from a now-notorious Moscow-based unit, under the auspices of the Third Service, the FSB’s scientific and technical wing. However, it is inconceivable that the unit would have flown to Tomsk and carried out the operation without at least notifying the local FSB, especially as surveillance specialists from the ORU, the Operational Investigative Directorate, as well as local officers of the Tomsk FSB’s Service for the Protection of the Constitutional System and the Fight against Terrorism would have been watching Navalny and his people.
Who was in charge then of the Tomsk Region UFSB or FSB Directorate? Major General Dmitry Ivanov. Since then, he has been moved to take over the Chelyabinsk UFSB, which may sound like a sideway move, but is actually diagonally upwards. This is not only a larger and more powerful UFSB but, as one inside source put it to a local news outlet, “Ivanov was sent to Chelyabinsk because it is one of the most profitable places in the country in terms of dealing with high-profile corruption cases.” Profitable? There certainly will be opportunities for personal enrichment: a former Chelyabinsk UFSB chief, Yuri Nikitin, acquired the unflattering nickname “Yura 5%” both for manipulating bonuses (his subordinates had theirs shaved 5% to boost his own) and also, some suggest, his rake-offs from local deals. However, this is also as a chance to make a splash striking at corrupt police (not FSB, of course) and also criminal-official rackets (of which the South Urals abounds). His predecessor, Sergei Sizov, made a splash with a bribe-taking case against the ex-mayor of Chelyabinsk, Evgeny Teftelev.
The idea is that then he will be ready for a transfer to every Chekist’s dream posting: Moscow. Ivanov has done his time, having worked his way up through the Novosibirsk Region UFSB before being transferred to Tomsk in 2016. Sizov is moving to Novosibirsk – that is a lateral move – and only a year and a half since appointment. The chatter is that he was pushed precisely to give Ivanov this jump, suggesting he has been fast-tracked for Moscow.
The planned move likely predated the poisoning, although it may have accelerated things, helping account for Sizov’s unusually rapid move. Still, it clearly didn’t hurt. The system clearly knows that it has to reward good soldiers, especially when they are expected to do bad things.
In Moscow’s Shadows
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