I promised to post a new blog on Girkin after his hacked email archive was made public by Anonymous a few days ago. I didn’t expect that there would be so much to go through (1874 emails, spanning 2009-2014) , and it took me a while not only to read but to take in what I read. A teaser: this is a sinister story of surreptitious religious crusades, secret societies, political ambitions and private psychotic delusions. All in all – everything you would expect from a Dan Brown novel. Except this one is happening for real.
In the beginning, let me make two caveats. First, A lot of what I will summarize below comes from private emails. There was a moral question if that is okay. My verdict: it’s fully justified. Girkin is a dangerous criminal at large: a terrorist under Ukrainian law, and a criminal under art. 359 of the Russian Criminal Code (“participating in an armed conflict of a foreign country: 3-7 years). This is a person who has hijacked and murdered civilians and is currently holding hostages (including journalsts), and has amassed (and is using) an immense arsenal of weapons. This is a person who has to be stopped now. Stopping him requires deep profiling. And every insignificant detail may hold a clue. Thus, the emails are legit to read and use.
Second, as you may see below, Girkin’s borderline between real world and fantasy is at times blurred. Thus, what he says happened to him may not always reflect reality. I have tried to alert you to such dubious moments but I certainly do not pretend to have caught them all)
More than 90% of Girkin’s emails in the last few years revolve around his obsession with (a) historical reenactments of battles, (b) online war simulation games and (c) collecting military objects (weapons, uniforms, mementos, etc). These letters are generally harmless and boring, but they do indicate a few personal peculiarities that may be summarized as follows:
– first, Girkin has a truly obsessive/compulsive personality; as suggested by the inordinate amount of time spent on his hobby.
– second, his obsession with guns is beyond the wholesome: on several occasions he brokered black-market transactions of pistols/guns/machine guns, just for the privilege of being able to “shoot it for a while”.
– third, his obsession with his in-hobby fantasies spills over into his personal life. Indeed often he does not seem to see the borderline between the two. More than once he writes broken-heart letters to women, who “mislead” him by flirting with him in the virtual game, and then, in real life, turned out to not be into him. The tone of these letters is stalkingly sinister; he insults the women who rejected him, tells them that it was their fault he fell for them (“you flirted with me in the game“), and now that he was distraught, they “will bear the consequences” ( but they shouldn’t worry much, as “yet I won’t use my power over you to revenge in the game, such as to deny you a promotions”). Reading these emails brought back an uneasy feeling of re-reading “The Collector” by John Fowles
Prior to 2013
Prior to early 2013, the time that he did not allocate to his hobbies, he appeared to spend on writing. He constantly spurted out fantasy stories about ghosts, gnomes and fairies, and mailed them to everyone who seemed like they might read them. He also produced a number of war “memoirs”, and even a full-fledged movie script, all focusing on Bosnia and Chechnya. Although he presents these stories as based on his personal war experiences, there now appears a shred of doubt about whether he indeed took part in (as many) military missions as he describes. First, many of his stories appear to follow the stereotypes of the genre and almost all of the factual details appear also in other source documents, suggesting he may just have reconstructed a heroic past based on obsessive research. Second, in various disputes in online communities others accuse him of having fabricated at least part of his military participations. At least one of his claims to fame gets some credibility – about his participation as a Russian volunteer in the 1992 Bosnian war (see request from Marat Musin below). Anyway, whether or not he did take part or simply fantasized about his postings in Transnistria, Chechnya, Dagestan, etc, requires further investigation.
Work: In his emails prior to 2013, Girkin did not elaborate much on his actual work, except that he works in the “anti-terrorist” division of FSB. He wrote to various friends that he felt underused, underpaid and bored, and was considering retiring from the army, unless something exciting pops up. He also complained that due to his military clearance level, he was not allowed to travel abroad – not even to Ukraine, where he has quite a few fellow-collectors/re-constructors.
Political and religions beliefs: Many of Girkin’s historical reconstruction events are sponsored by the Church, and he discusses his Orthodox beliefs with friends. Politically, he longs for a Greater Russia and believes that Russia is under attack, and as early as 2011 writes to a friend that, per “Washington’s plans”, in 2012 “the same disintegration events will start in Russia that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union in ’91“.
In an email from January 2012, Girkin writes:
“I don’t have time for anything. Spring is coming – and with it, many problems, associated with a possible new “orange revolution [in Ukraine]. I have no words; everyone is fed up with the über-corrupt current regime; it has turned the country into a dumping ground, and the Empire – into a miserable colony of raw-materials. But those, who are trying to come to power (rather, whom someone is pushing behind the curtain) – are not better”
Clearly then, the FSB had much to do in anticipation of the new orange revolution, which, however, was delayed by a full year.
The end of his military career
In September 2012, Col. Girkin gets the news that soon he may be transferred to Dagestan:
“Come New Year, I expect to be transferred to the Caucuses…Finally, it became hot enough there for the agency to consider sending scumbags like me”, he writes to a Ukrainian collector-friend on Sept. 16th, 2012.
Girkin revels in the anticipation for being closer the the action than his desk job in Moscow affords him. Moreover that there are job cuts at the FSB, and he is afraid he may have to go into reserve. Yet, he is not completely happy, as he complains that the new job will be “lieutenant-colonel” grade. Little does he suspect then, however, that even this will be an elusive prospect: in February 2013, his job is declined:
“My enemies set me up – they organized a psychiatrist evaluation and screwed my application – Dagestan no longer wants me. There is another option, but anyways, I will never be allowed to be serve [in combat] again, so my career is screwed up permanently. I am considering going into the civil area”
So Girkin files in his resignation with the FSB. He has a civil job lined up for him already. On Feb 20th he is out of his old and in his new position as head of security for Marshall Capital. The job pays well, “8-9 thousand dollars [per month], boasts Girkin to a friend, although it appears that salaries will be delayed for a few months in early 2013, as the Cyprus bank the company keeps its cash in has frozen their accounts.
Marshall Capital is the investment company of Konstantin Malofeev, a Russian billionaire-turned-Orthodox-philantropist . MarshCap’s largest investment is its 11% stake in RosTelecom, the telecommunications giant. Malofeev’s publicly cultivated persona has been one of the “charitable millionaire”, spending large amounts on christian charities and family-protection initiatives. Privately, his business associates describe him as “a modern-day Rasputin”, or as a cunning businessman “who can sell sand to someone inside the Sahara”. In the FT’s description,
“Mr Malofeev is one of several prominent Orthodox business and political leaders who are enjoying increasing influence in the second Putin era, as conservative and Orthodox beliefs gain greater influence over legislation” (Read FT’s full article here)
Among Malofeev’s claims to fame – and ingratiation with Putin – is his initiative for “Safe Internet” , which successfully pushed for legislation to censor internet content that was deemed “harmful to children” – which, in his view, includes posting of any information on gay and lesbian lifestyles. The legislation led to a internet blacklist of banned blogs and websites, which -as of the day of writing – has taken down – permanently or temporarily 4160 (!) web sites.
One of Girkin’s first major jobs for Malofeev is to organize his personal security during a visit to the US, in September 2013. The visit is on the invitation of a Christian organization organization called The Princeton Group. In its invitation to Malofeev, the group strikes on a chord close to his heart:
“We will fight to preserve marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife. We will defend our precious religious liberties against this latest onslaught. Be part of what will someday be regarded as a miracle: the saving of marriage when the forces arrayed against it were boasting that they were unstoppable“
Who introduced Girkin to Malofeev is not exactly clear from the correspondence. It becomes clear, however, that security in the strictest sense of the word is not the only job that MarshallCapital has in mind for Girkin.
In January 2014, he must take a few business trip to Kiev, paid for by Malofeev. One of them will last very long.
But that’s a few months in the future. Before that, in November 2013, Girkin is tasked to solve a hard problem. He must find a way to stop a criminal investigation by his former FSB colleagues into the mercenary work of Russian fighters in Syria. The fighters – all ex military, some recommended by Girkin personally – are employed by the Slavonic Corps, a Hong Kong-based front company which is supposed to provide security services to the Syrian government. Something has gone wrong, the media has caught on to their actual work, and all of them have been indicted under article 359 of the Criminal Code. And, ironically, it is Girkin’s job – in November 2013 – to prove that these Russians with AK47’s in Syria are not mercenaries.
TO BE CONTINUED