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SBU exposes activities of special information unit and human intelligence network set up by Russia’s General Staff of Armed Forces (video)

SBU Military Counter-intelligence officers exposed and documented the activities of special information unit created by Russia’s General Staff of Armed Forces in Luhansk, as well as human intelligence network of Russia’s special services in the territories under Ukrainian authorities control. This was announced at a briefing by Serhii Levchenko, the head of the SBU Military Counter-intelligence.

Special service operatives documented that the group under the code name “Sapfir" by the orders of Russian supervisors organized the preparation and conduct of anti-Ukrainian information campaigns. The group was also engaged in collecting and analysing information regarding top leadership of Ukraine, the Armed Forces and other military formations, gathering intelligence about the forces involved in the Joint Forces ​​Operation. “We have recorded a significant increase in the activity of this group on the eve of the Presidential elections in Ukraine,” said Serhii Levchenko.

SBU Military Counter-intelligence officers identified the “supervisor” of this information unit, a career officer of Russia’s General Staff of Armed Forces, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander A. Sazonov, the operative pseudonym “Pavel Bodrov”. “We found that he was the head of the operational group under the intelligence centre of Russian military intelligence in Luhansk,” said the SBU Military Counter-intelligence Chief.

Law enforcers documented that the “Sapfir” division comprised of 15 identified members of the illegal armed formation of the so-called “LNR People's Militia”. The head of the group is a Ukrainian citizen recruited by military intelligence - Vasilina Kateryna Hennadiivna.

For coordination of the “Sapfir” group work with the so-called “LNR authorities and control bodies” and the support of its activities the representatives of Russian military intelligence used recruited “LNR government advisor”, a citizen of Ukraine Timokhin Andriy Volodymyrovych, nicknamed “Kniaz”.

The members of the group “Sapfir" were preparing and distributing fake materials in social networks, to discredit the highest military-political leadership of our state. In particular, they distributed the fake order of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine supposedly suspending the payment of all extra money to servicemen of the Armed Forces.

The agitators used social networks to post on behalf of patriotic forces fake appeals for anti-government actions against combating corruption and for impeachment of the President of Ukraine before the elections. “Vasilina personally reported Sazonov about the executed work on articles and demotivators,” said Serhii Levchenko.

One of the key tasks of the group was to stir up inter-faith hatred, too. In particular, they systematically distributed materials forming public opinion that Ukraine can’t be granted the Tomos of Autocephaly. The “Sapfir” group has been constantly engaged in discrediting the SBU Program “Waiting for You at Home” and creating a negative image of the Service in the society, as evidenced by the received fragments of the tasks and execution reports.

The group executed tasks of Russian intelligence with the help of specially registered pro-Ukrainian and separatist pages in social networks, creating in total over 50 accounts and 130 groups in social networks. To distribute fake messages the criminals used specially created web-pages, IP-telephony messengers and e-mail boxes. "The offenders also sent provocative leaflets and SMS messages to the Ukrainian military,” emphasized the SBU representative.

 The Service documented that Russian Military Intelligence setting direct tasks on posting leaflets to discredit Ukraine, the reports accusing the leaders of Ukraine’s Army in allegedly concealing combat losses. According to the handlers' plan, this should have decreased the moral and psychological condition of Ukrainian servicemen who are on the line of contact, intimidating them.

Law enforcers identified accounts in social networks, which Sapfir group used to penetrate into the Internet groups created by units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, where they systematically distributed fake materials advantageous to the Russian side and discrediting Ukrainian statehood. Currently, a set of measures to block these resources is being implemented jointly with SBU Department of counter-intelligence protection of state information security.

Sapfir group presented its ‘achievements’ in monthly reports to the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces. In general, during their existence, they created and published in social networks of Internet almost 12,000 anti-Ukrainian fake information materials. Currently, the SBU is taking a complex of measures to block the activities of the Sapfir group.

The Service also established that for the direct gathering of intelligence information from

the territory controlled by Ukrainian government, the Russian handlers involved HUMINT network of 4 persons from Russian Military Intelligence. The network was used by Russian Military Intelligence officers Alexander Sazonov and the recruited resident Andriy Timokhin. With the view of conspiracy in course of transmitting intelligence about the military equipment of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, its quantity, routes and places of disposition, the enemy agents, following the instructions, used special terminology and conventions.

SBU Military Counter-intelligence officers jointly with the SBU Main Directorate in Donetsk and Luhansk regions detained agents and informants of the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces. During searches at their place of residence, law enforcers seized over 20 communication devices used for spying, photo and video devices with recorded information on military equipment, engineering defence structures of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, other military information, as well as almost 20 SIM-cards of Ukrainian and Russian operators and USB flash drives. Symbols of Russian Federation and so-called ‘people's republics’ were also seized.

In the framework of criminal proceeding initiated under Part 1 Article 258-3 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, the criminals were served a notice of suspicion in committing a crime and chosen a custody as a measure of restraint.

Investigative actions are under way.


SBU Press Centre


For the Attention of the SBU Head





Zhydkov Dmytro Mykhailovych
Shevchenko Daniil Borysovych
Yatsenko Viktor Viacheslavovych

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