by and for citizen investigative journalists

The Importance of OSINT: Misinformation and Verification of Conflict Media

May 3, 2016

By Nick Waters

On the 25 February 2016 a video (Video 1) was posted in the video site “Liveleak.com” titled “Shelling of Checkpoint in Ukraine” with the description “Reports suggest the pro-Russian separatists fired on the Police checkpoint in Yasinovataya, Ukraine”. It is just one video amongst the huge amount of information produced and posted on the internet daily, and not hugely remarkable. However, it can be used as a good example of the power, and limitations of OSINT, as well as the kind of misinformation that has become a feature of the internet. It is vital to counter this rampant misinformation, whether it is to establish a more truthful narrative, or to prevent innocent people being accused of terrorist acts as happened after the Boston Bombings. Therefore this OSINT investigation will critically examine this video and the information connected to it and establish what we can and cannot ascertain from this video using open source techniques. It will include an analysis of the video itself, working out where and when it was filmed, and establishing what happened during the event. It will then use OSINT to provide context to the video, and establish the veracity of its description.

Analysing the video

Summary: The 24 second video, shot from a dashcam, shows someone driving down what appears to be a motorway. There are then several explosions, both on the road and on the roof of a building further along the road. The driver stops and the video ends.

When was the video taken?

The description of the video makes no mention of date, however the dashcam shows a watermark indicating the date as 24th February 2016 (Figure 1). Liveuamap.com, which records and roughly locates events in conflict zones, registers this event as happening on 25/02/2016 while the video was uploaded to LiveLeak on 25/02/2016. Therefore we can say that this happened on, or before the 25/02/16 and, on the balance of probability, on the 24/02/16 as shown in the timestamp in Figure 1.

Figure 1

Figure 1

Where was the video taken?

The video mentions the location as “Yasinovataya”, a town to the north east of Donetsk. It clearly happens on a major motorway junction, with offset directional signs above the carriage-ways, and near a building with a distinctive pyramid shaped roof.

Figure 2

Figure 2

There is only one location with all these distinctive features near Yasynuvata, a checkpoint at 48°06′47.7″N 37°48′05″E, south west of Yasynuvata (also known as Yasinovatskiy or Yasinovataya, depending on language and spelling). No other traffic post with this configuration could be located within a 10 km radius of the town.

Figure 3

Figure 3

It is extremely unlikely that there is another location with this arrangement of the building, post, signs and the junction itself. Wikimapia marks this building as a stationary traffic post, which fits the description given by the video. This geolocation shows that the video took place at this checkpoint beyond reasonable doubt.

Analysing the event

During the video there are four distinct explosions: two are seen on the motorway, one is a direct hit on the building and the fourth is heard off camera. These explosions come from at least two different weapons systems.

Figure 4 : Explosion 1

Figure 4 : Explosion 1

Figure 5 : Explosion 2

Figure 5 : Explosion 2

Figure 6 : Explosion 3

Figure 6 : Explosion 3

In Figure 5 you can see some kind of projectile in the frame before the explosion itself. This is clearly some kind of direct fire weapon system, requiring line of sight onto the target, and obviously accurate, if the building was the target. Given the single shot, time of flight, and appearance of the projectile, we can make an educated guess it is some kind of rocket, but can confirm no more than that.

Explosions 1 and 3 are much smaller and seem inaccurate. Their positioning next to the barriers also suggest they come from an indirect weapons system, arching in their projectile. The fences and barriers to the right of the motorway would prevent a direct-fire weapons system from placing projectiles in those locations unless they were firing directly down the motorway, which in this instance seems very unlikely. This would immediately suggest either an 82 mm mortar line or an AGS 17 30mm grenade launcher. The explosions seem small for an 82mm mortar, and appear more akin to an AGS 17. However, this cannot be established with any degree of certainty.

Analysing the context

So far we have established that this is an attack with two different weapon systems, on a traffic police post near Yasynuvata. This is consistent with the video description. In the next section we will examine the context of the video and expose the inaccuracies of the information posted with the video.

According to liveuamap.com the identified location is registered as the front lines of the Ukraine conflict and has been in separatist hands since the around the second Battle for Donetsk Airport on 27/09/14. The incoming rocket also appears to come from the right hand side, or North-West, the direction of the Ukrainian lines. Both these facts suggest it is Ukrainian, rather than separatist forces, firing on the checkpoint.

The question of who is firing at who, and why, is confirmed from a video posted on 08/03/2016 on Youtube (Video 2). Video 2 shows what are reportedly separatist soldiers (or “Putin’s Orcs” according to a crowd-sourced translation of the video description) firing from a hardened fighting position near Yasinovatskiy at a location that is suspiciously similar to the checkpoint shown in the first video. Examination of Video 2 shows road markings and lamp-posts which suggest the fighting position is built on a substantial road. The configuration of the lampposts is indicative of at a least a four-lane road and matches with the configuration of the lampposts in Video 1.

Figure 7: (Video 2)

Figure 7 : (Video 2)

Figure 8 : (Video 2)

Figure 8 : (Video 2)

Figure 9 : (Video 1)

Figure 9 : (Video 1)

Figure 10 shows a closer comparison of the two locations, including the pyramid-shaped police post and a distinctive semi-circular structure on the side of the police post.

Figure 10

Figure 10

Figure 11 even shows damage to the roof of the police post that is consistent with the attack shown in Video 1.

Figure 11 (Video 2)

Figure 11 (Video 2)

The large road and the lampposts point to the two videos being filmed in the same location. The semi-circular frame and the distinctive police post confirm that the location shown in Video 1 is the separatist fighting position shown in Video 2. This would also explain why the vehicles in Video 1 are both using the same side of the motorway: the fighting position is blocking the other lanes. All these details confirm, barring a gross act of friendly fire, that the incoming fire in Video 1 is in fact Ukrainian.

Final confirmation that this is a separatist fighting position is provided by Russian news reports from this position reportedly on 08/03/2016 by various agencies. These reports were found simply using Google and searching “Yasynuvata, attack” for pages posted after the 24/02/16. They show a substantial separatist fighting position at this location, clearly identifiable as the location in Video 1 and 2 by the distinctive semi-circular frame structure, traffic post and firing positions.

Figure 12 (Video 3: Russia 24)

Figure 12 (Video 3: Russia 24)

Figure 13 (Video 4: News Front)

Figure 13 (Video 4: News Front)

Conclusion

OSINT is a form of intelligence that is not going to disappear, indeed it will continue to grow. The spread of social media, and technologies such as camera phones, have given us the unprecedented ability to create and send huge amounts of data all over the world almost instantaneously. It has also meant that the trusted sources of news are no longer just governments or the mainstream media, but include a much wider range of actors, including private citizens posting on sites such as LiveLeak. In some ways this has furthered the cause of transparency, as individual citizens have a greater capability to examine and expose government actions, yet it also allows private citizens to produce false and misleading information, as we have seen with Video 1. OSINT has placed a great deal of power into the hands of individuals, using the information contained in the videos I have examined, and other freely available information, I have produced a map of what is probably a platoon sized fighting position shown in Video 2. This includes the locations of: the probable command bunker; AGS 17; probable 12.7mm machine gun; radio antenna; bunkers; firing points & arcs and layout of physical defences. I can even see the doorways into the police post and if they open inwards or outwards. This level of detail would be vital to a commander on the ground and would raise ethical issues if it were to be published, potentially putting the lives of the separatist soldiers at risk.

Video 1 does raise the possibility of a more ethical use of OSINT: the use of private citizens to monitor, record, disseminate and verify actions that would otherwise remain hidden or uncertain. This is not a new concept and has been suggested as a method to monitor and control nuclear proliferation. Currently the ceasefire in Ukraine is being monitored by the OSCE and their observers on the ground, producing rather general spot reports, for example: “the SMM heard 26 undetermined explosions and two bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire 5-10km north and north-west of its position”. An organised group of OSINT analysts examining media produced by the public could aid this mission, adding specificity to the general reports of battles and, with an engaged population producing multiple angles and viewpoints of the same incident, potentially a better chance to verify events, countering the kind of misinformation that appeared with Video 1.

 

Nick Waters

Nick is an ex-British Army officer and open source analyst. He has a special interest in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Ukraine, as well as intelligence, security and international development. Contact via Twitter: @N_Waters89

69 Comments

  1. Игорь Петренко

    Дякую за рослідування! Це дуже кропітка, але важлива робота для українців!

    Reply
  2. stranger

    “Both these facts suggest it is Ukrainian, rather than separatist forces, firing on the checkpoint.”
    I cannot believe my eyes, Bellingcat admitted that it was Ukrainian incoming fire to the checkpoint. But still selected the most innocent incident. On 27th of April DNR checkpoint under Olenivka was fired the same way, several civil cars with passengers were destroyed. I don’t want to give the explicit pictures, just the dry facts: http://www.osce.org/ukraine-smm/236936
    Unfortunately it looks like the new and very exiting social media investigation journalism becomes very subjected to the selection bias from the very beginning. Instead of revealing the truth which classical journalists may distort, OSINT seems to focus on small details of some selected and limited events just to completely ignore the more significant ones. Though i’m excited what you can do technically I cannot help to note the strong selection bias. I hope you would let me be skeptical.

    Reply
    • Sam

      stranger, what is a DNR checkpoint?

      You mean Russian Checkpoint?

      In Olenvika, that was a typical FSB/GRU op.
      Just like launching artillery and GRADs from within civilian areas in Dontesk.

      After this dirty Russian war, the fraternal Russian/Ukrainian friendship is dead.

      Reply
        • Sam

          stranger, I have no idea what that says.

          You just posted.
          It’s just after 3 am in most of Europe.

          Glad to know that the troll farm has you working all night.

          They must be scared of something

          PanamaLeaks Monday?

          How many Russian oligarchs are avoiding taxes and hiding their money overseas because they are afraid that Putin will take their earnings (robbed for Russia)?

          All rich people avoiding taxes and hiding their money should be held accountable, regardless of their nationality.

          Reply
          • stranger

            Sam, there is the link to OSCE report. One don’t have to understand Russian, one can just watch the video and think how to stop this massacre. May be the west should give more weapon to Ukraine?

    • C V Meyer

      Ukrainians shooting at the Russian invaders of Ukraine, and some of their local thugs, is perfectly reasonable. I hope they always aim true.

      Reply
    • Sam

      Interesting to see the St. Petersburg troll farm took most the weekend off.

      I wonder if they get the 9th off or will they be flooding this thread?

      Also, speaking of May 9th, why do Russians always like about the 1939 Russian alliance with the Nazis?

      Reply
  3. Alexey

    stranger, It looks they’re plaing objectiveness, yet. “Instead of revealing the truth” That’s not their aim, obviously. BC is juest the same weapon of propaganda like other media.

    Reply
    • Russian

      You’re not even trying, are you? Just rubbing the same “all media are propaganda” narrative in until it hurts, are you? C’mon, we all know you’ve been sent here to plant seeds of doubt among the “undecided”, but frankly there are barely any of them here anymore, and even if there were, anyone can see through your charade by now.

      If you repeat a lie enough times it may cause some to doubt. Overdo it, and any person will see through it.

      You should take stranger’s example, who is at least a sophisticated troll and actually has made some worthwhile remarks. I can actually see some noobs falling for some of his stuff… Kind of like people would fall for pseudo-intellectual rhetoric coming from a source they are already inclined to agree with. Reminds me a lot of the time I got hoodwinked into giving a creationist a fair hearing on an evolution forum many years ago.

      Reply
      • stranger

        Do you feel nostalgia for those times when the greatest problem was the fighting between creationists and evolutionists? (I also remember the deadly logical theories of some religious cults – sometimes the only way not to be brainwashed was only not to think and not to listen them.) While now people are seriously discussing the new Cold War or WW3 and the Grand Chessboard is turning more into kinda ‘Chapaev’ game.

        Reply
        • Sam

          Only FSB and Putinist talk about “Grand Chessboard”

          Putin is threatening nukes.

          Only the crazies in North Korea do the same.

          Russia is going to fall apart, by their own making, again!

          Putin fail.

          Russians are great people, but you work for the Oligharchs.

          Reply
      • stranger

        “C’mon, we all know you’ve been sent here to plant seeds of doubt among the “undecided”
        C’mon, that reminds me some experience I had with several religious cults which were extremely popular in Russia, especially in Moscow, during the evil 90th. Believe! You may not believe, but then you are not with us, who are not with us is against us. You must not be serious.

        Reply
        • John Zenwirt

          Sttranger’s Link: “Regarding the landmass of Eurasia as the center of global power, Brzezinski sets out to formulate a Eurasian geostrategy for the United States…”

          That is a wrong theory. Do you remember Mackinder’s 1904 “Heartland Theory”…? It was the major geo-strategic thinking of the day.

          It was the same belief, that anyone who owns this World “Heartland” will rule the World.

          The presence of the USA and China seem to obviate that theory, it’s an old idea.

          Reply
          • stranger

            A nice theory, I didn’t know, thanks. That is probably just from geometrical considerations – the center of the world, right? That reminds something from ancient Greece concepts for heliocentric vs terracentric construction of the universe. I might have misunderstood the theory though.
            Will put a smile, just in case : )

      • Sam

        Great comment… Russian

        Repeat ridiculous lies like RT and Sputnik so many times, then risk turning “doubters” into people that no longer believe RT and Sputnik.

        Where did the smart propagandists go?

        The great (respected) Soviet propagandists are rolling in their graves because the New Propagandists have no nuance, they are self sabotaging.

        It’s like tabloid newspapers saying “woman gives birth to alien twins”…..

        Nobody believes it, they read it for entertainment and laugh at the authors. They say to themselves, “I’m not that stupid as the Kremlin thinks I am.”

        The emperor has no clothes….

        He has nukes, BUKs, etc

        But no plan to revive the economy…

        That’s the sad part.

        Russians deserve better.

        Reply
    • Sam

      Alexey,

      If you assume the rest of the worlds media is like Sputnik, RT, and other Russian state controlled media…

      You are delusional.

      Maybe in Turkey, where they put journalists in jail….

      In Russia, they just murder them and the Kremlin covers it up.
      Want some polonium tea?

      Alexey, you are mentally deficient. Ask stranger how to be a better troll.

      Greg is pathetic too.

      Russian propaganda would be so much more effective if it was led by people like stranger.

      Posters like Alexey and Greg ruin the messaging. It’s an amateur PR campaign.

      stranger, tell the bosses to stop paying by the post, but rather the quality of the post.

      Alexey and Greg are ruining your effect.

      But then again, the KGB/FSB never understood that, just like the KGB and politburo never understood enough to operate a successful economy.

      Reply
      • stranger

        Sam is just trying to clash commenters against each other. You are risking that Russian and Ukrainian trolls will unite and give it back all together.

        Reply
        • Sam

          stranger,

          It’s an hour later, soon after 4am in most of Europe.

          Don’t you sleep? Or are you paid to post?

          I’m not trying to do anything, I’m just stating what my Russian and Ukrainian friends agree on…

          The fraternal brotherhood is broken for decades.

          There are Russian trolls here.

          Do you actually think Ukraine has trolls here?

          I think you are sadly mistaken.

          Ukrainians aren’t that organized… Russians are….

          “You are risking that Russian and Ukrainian trolls will unite and give it back together”

          What the hell does that mean? Does Russia now have fake Ukrainian trolls?

          I’m not from either country….

          How will they unite? Russia is killing Ukrainians almost everyday? Where is the brotherhood?

          I think this is a second or third shift St. Petersburg troll using stranger’s account, and sabotaging it again through idiotic posts. Or he’s drunk?

          “Russian and Ukrainian trolls will unite”

          In what crazy world, unless they are Russian (fake Ukrainian) trolls?

          What are they going to unite against? Putin? Russia?

          Ukrainians don’t want to be a part of the Russian Mafia world. Too bad Russians don’t understand that, and Russians prefer to be slaves to Oligharchs.

          Reply
          • stranger

            “Russia is killing Ukrainians almost everyday? ”
            Could you point out at least one Russian, the citizen of RF, on that video? The fire at checkpoint on the border of Ukrainian controlled region and DNR controlled one, was from Ukrainian territory. Artillery caliber > 120mm. The people who died – locals from Donbas. The soldiers are the separatists and the their ‘minister’ Zakharchenko, born in Donbas. Where are Russians there?

          • Sam

            stranger,

            What happened before and after the video?

            Everyone knows the Russians are there, even you and your parents.

            If the west shows their evidence, then Putin will threaten to start WW3 with nukes.

            The west is trying to allow Putin and Russians to save face.

            Thanks for avoiding the Ukraine soldier death toll, it didn’t serve your argument well.

            The DNR is 90% Russian troops “on vacation”.

            Maybe those stupid Americans should vote for Trump, then Russia can have WW3 with nukes.

            Again, no one, nor 10000+ would have died in Ukraine without Russia’s invasion.

            The locals from Dombas died because Russia infaded

            Fact

        • Sam

          stranger,

          Are you now telling us the future Kremlin plan?

          “You are risking that Russian and Ukrainian trolls will unite and give it back together”

          So now the Kremlin and St. Petersburg troll farm are planing to plant Russians to pretend to be pro-Russian “Ukrainians” ?

          Are you/they planning on flooding Bellingcat threads ?

          Thanks for giving away the plot, though they are a little late.

          What do Ukrainians and Russians have to unite with anymore?

          Russia invaded Ukraine, you think the Ukrainians are ok with this, and it will pass?

          Ukrainians want a better life….

          Russians want..? Status quo.
          If Russians have no positive future, they want to deny Ukrainians a successful future.

          Ukraine may become a successful country

          Russia will stay the same corrupt stagnant state.

          People like stranger, Alexey, and Greg want the Russia state to stay the same, which will lead to failure.

          Courageous Russians want a successful Russia for Russians, not Oligharchs.

          Reply
          • stranger

            Sam, there are local people at Donbas who don’t appreciate that the official Kiev has come to them to bomb their cities. They are ready to stay until the end. Whether Russia has been supported them or not. That’s why now there is no military solution, and that’s why the west doesn’t hurry to provide more weapon. Ukraine and those self-proclaimed republics would need to negotiate somehow sooner or later and look for a political compromize which is Minsk. Otherwise Ukraine would have to kill them all together with a large part of population, or besiege them with a similar effect, even if Russia withdraws support.

            “The DNR is 90% Russian troops “on vacation”.” I suppose the ration is opposite.

          • Sam

            stranger,

            Like you always avoid,

            Cause and Effect,

            It’s all Russia’s fault.

            A = Russia invaded Ukraine

            B, C, D, etc are all results of Russia invading Ukraine.

            Russia’s actions directly or indirectly contributed to 10,000+ deaths.

            You keep avoiding A while complaining about the effects or reactions.

            It is all Russia’s fault… Russia started this mess.

            If you support this invasion, maybe you should go on “vacation”?

        • Sam

          Why won’t Russia let Ukraine be free?

          Why won’t Russia let Ukraine determine their own future?

          Reply
          • stranger

            Ukraine has already determined own future. Introduced ‘sanctions’ against Russia, torn most of trade relations. Waiting for visa abolishing with Europe from day to day. Russia would just have to protect own markets and forget about the union. Ukraine just have to agree that common vision of the future with own Donbas.

          • Sam

            Common vision on Dombas? Common with Russia?

            What the hell does that mean? Frozen conflict?

            Russia destroyed Dombas, who is going to pay to rebuild it?

            Where is the real stranger who can write more than one paragraph?

          • Sam

            Russia has invaded Ukraine when the people tried to be free..

          • colonel007

            >Why won’t Russia let Ukraine be free?

            Free from what?
            – from Russian gas?
            – from Russian money (state loan debt)?
            – from Russian people, living in/at Ukraine ?
            – from Russian market?
            – from mutual history?
            – from responcibility for the coup d’état?
            – from responcibility for the crimes against its own people?

          • Sam

            Colonel007

            Welcome,

            Ukraine can buy Russian gas cheaper from Europe than Gazprom

            Russian gave corrupt Ukrainian Oligharchs and government loans to buy influence.

            Those people are Russian speaking Ukrainians

            Russian market, overpriced, inferior products.

            Mutual History? The Kieven Rus? The centuries old bullying?

            A coup? It’s not Ukrainians fault that that they demanded better from their government. Something Russians are too cowardly to do.

            Crimes against their people?
            No one would have died if Russia didn’t invade Ukraine.

            New troll colonel007, you lost.

            Also, if you hate the west why the hell do you use 007 in your handle.

            You do realize that 007 James Bond spent many books/movies fighting against Russia?

            stranger, does the troll farm not realize the idiots they hire?

            Everyone

            Why would any pro-Russian poster use 007 in their handle unless they were totally ignorant?

            Does the St. Petersburg troll farm have any hiring standards?

          • Sam

            stranger, can you get your boss to get colonel007, Alexey, and Greg to only post on RT, Sputnik, and LifeNews?

            These posters are really making the Kremlin ( St. Petersburg ) propaganda machine look pathetic.

            These guys’ posts are creating the opposite reaction than intended.

          • Sam

            Colonel007

            No answer?

            Your trolling is weak.

            Is the FSB so stupid on how Google works?

    • Sam

      Alexey,

      The incident in this video would have never happened if Russia did not invade Ukraine.

      Russia is to blame for what occurred in these videos and all the deaths in Dombas.

      The propaganda people like you don’t realize the harm you have caused to Russia for decades.

      Reply
  4. Leighroy

    Since LiveLeak was bought by Russia Today, it has become infested with the Putinistas, Troll farm slaves and ridiculous propaganda with very low levels of credibility. I appreciate Bellingcat debunking this nonsense, but it’s a bit like debunking Disney.

    Reply
    • Sam

      Liveleak, Wikileaks, Snowden, are all tools of the Russian Government.

      The problem, they lack credibility anymore because their biases, and their tin-foil hat patronage.

      Reply
        • Sam

          colonel007

          Welcome back,

          I’m the Csar of Russia, didn’t you know?

          You work for me, pay taxes for my houses, daughters, and my mistresses.

          PS

          Stranger, why does Putin disown his daughters?

          Why doesn’t Putin acknowledge who his daughters are?

          This is very weird to people who live outside Russia

          The world knows about Chelsea Clinton, the GW Bush daughters, the Obama’s daughters.

          Why does Putin hide his daughters?

          Are they corrupt?

          Why hide them? Unless you have something to hide?

          Reply
          • colonel007

            Sam,
            let me in.
            You’ve just answered your questions.
            Why do you hide yourself? Do you have something to hide?

          • Sam

            colonel007

            I’m not a public figure, you don’t understand law?

            Ohh, wait, the law in Russia changes every day..

            I’ve never been asked for a bribe in my whole life, how many bribes have you had to pay?

            What type of society do you want to live in?

            Do you want a better Russia? Without corruption?

          • Sam

            Colonel007

            If Stalin was alive, you’d be sent to the GULAG for the 007 handle.

            You are a traitor to mother Russia with that handle.

            My FSB friends in Germany are going to make sure you disappear for being such a poorly qualified troll.

            You make Russia humiliated.

            Troll fail

          • stranger

            “I’m the Csar of Russia, didn’t you know?” are Napoleon and Julius Caesar also at your party there?

          • colonel007

            Sammy-boy,
            your FSB friends in Germany is just nothing, because:
            – there are no such a FSB agents in Germany;
            – there are basicly no such a FSB agents abroad Russia;
            – you don’t have Russian friends;
            – you might have some comrads or compatriots among immigrants in Germany, nothing else.
            You are afraid…

          • Sam

            Stranger,

            We have all the best at my parties 😉

            You are welcome to stop by, rumor is Elvis might be arriving soon 😉

          • Sam

            Colonel007

            Are you so bad at English you couldn’t tell that I was teasing you?

            Which is your favorite James Bond movie btw?

            What am I supposed to be afraid of?
            Polonium tea?

            I guess I won’t be having supper at your house 😉

          • Sammy

            colonel007 and stranger,

            Why doesn’t Putin even admit who his daughters are?

            That is so weird to the rest of the world…

            Why won’t any of you speak about that?

  5. John Zenwirt

    Jamesbond007: “there are basicly no such a FSB agents abroad Russia;…”

    Ha Ha! Yeah, Russia has no
    Special Services and has no foreign spies!

    They do not secretly acquire and use intelligence operations.

    They do not steal technical secrets from the West.

    Stranger, you need to inform Agency toilers to up the game from ridiculous-level, to something more sublime…

    Reply
    • stranger

      Last time I heard about Russian spies when Anna Chapman was deported from NYC with several more guys. Putin met them in GRU office in the south west of Moscow and they sang ‘с чего начинается Родина’ (what does motherland begin with). Nowadays Russian spies are not what they used to be.

      Reply
      • Sam

        I disagree, I think Russian spies are still very good.

        Every country has spies since the beginning of time.

        There is nothing wrong with that…

        There are different levels of infiltration.

        Spies like Chapman, was she really a spy or a distraction?

        The Russian government could probably get all the info she collected from public us gov and thinktank publications.

        She and most of the group were meant to be “burned” when needed to distract from deep spies and be used as swaps.

        Standard procedure.

        Reply
        • stranger

          According to the public version, as can be found also on wiki, she and their group were betrayed by a messenger, a contact person, who had become a defector. So she and the others really had no chance, regardless of what they would or wouldn’t do.

          Fortunately she didn’t allow the FBI agent to pull them deeper into this game and incur more accusation from US state. Deliberate provocations of FBI agents are the most common and loved way to obtain the evidences in US. That is enough to respond to a provocation of an under covered agent to become guilty and get a sentence for many years. Which might be good for the sake of public safety, not too fare maybe.

          Also those amateur spies were exchanged to four real spies from the other side, so their freedom was paid well. Most funny was a family from Peru who claimed: ‘we are not Russians, why do you extradite us to Russia’.

          Probably there are all other kinds of spies, which we just don’t know (yet) about. Usually spy’s and defectors personal stories are not so light and glamour. That was definitely a fortunate and happy exception.

          Reply
          • Sammy

            stranger

            “she and their group were betrayed by a messenger, a contact person, who had become a defector.”

            The “defector” burned the low level spies to distract the search for the high infiltration deep spies.

            Standard Procedure for over 1000 years.

            Do you not understand that?

            The people in Peru, weren’t those people who escaped and were hiding from the Russian kleptocracy?

    • stranger

      Jonh, did you hear about Anna Chapman? That is a real lady and a real story. She was popular in Russia some time and made a quick career, but was not very public person and didn’t stay long in the public space.
      I’m afraid all her intelligence activity was to live in NYC for Russian tax payers money. She had own ambitious business for apartment lease advertisement in NYC, but probably it didn’t cover all visible expenditures, I’m not sure though.
      http://www.maxim.com/women/anna-chapman-gallery-gallery

      Reply
    • stranger

      Btw her maiden name is – Kuschenko, she was born in Russia, but I believe her father must be from Ukraine, or anyway it is an Ukrainian last name.
      That proves that neither politicians like Putin or Poroshenko, nor ‘the west’, nor Ukrainians who claim they are not Russians would be able to tear Ukraine from Russia. Even if it sounds sad at the moment. The dust will settle down sooner or later.

      Reply
      • John Zenwirt

        She is not quite the norm for national espionage…although the “honey trap” she worked may have paid some dividends…

        Now, the most Russian spying, as with the Chinese, is paying US Defense contractors money-for-technical secrets….

        Reply
        • stranger

          Chapman didn’t get an access to any secrets, so didn’t commit any crime from US Themis prospective, other than working for a foreign government. Though she took the fake passport given by an FBI agent under cover, which is usually consider a crime in US. Later after having called her father she guessed to bring this fake passport to police, by which provoked the arrest of all their group earlier, before they actually have gotten an access to any secrets. Though it looks like her only mission was to just live in NYC since her farther was an important diplomat and reportedly a KGB agent in Russia. Their group was exchanged to 4 real spies from the other side detained in Russia, definitely more serious and important. That was not a typical story, but a very curious one, and probably the most innocent w/o drama and broken lives.

          Reply
      • Sam

        stranger

        “… would be able to tear Ukraine from Russia”

        What bullshit… Ukraine does not belong to Russia.

        How can an independent country be torn from Russia?

        Listen to your own attitude towards Ukraine, like it is your possession?

        That attitude, not politicians nor the “west” , will be what may break the Ukraine/Russian brotherhood.

        It’s the Russians’ attitude and treatment of Ukrainians that will ruin the fraternal relationship.

        Everyday Russian propaganda tells the Russian people that Ukraine is run by Nazis and Facists.

        When the dust settles, the Ukrainians want a better life, the Russians are content with the status quo of Putin and the Oligharchs.

        I can’t believe you are so naive that you think things will ever be the same.

        Reply
  6. stranger

    Gessen is outstanding as always, started from Moscow cemetery, mentioned all hot topical key words, didn’t forget to mention her sexual orientation and ended up by Russian media which are not ironic enough, while of course accidentally omitted the reason why the result were considered politicized – that people’s voting contradicted with the jury’s decision. If she were ironic herself, her opuses might be funny, but otherwise not really in my taste.

    Reply
    • Sammy

      So Eurovision should be decided by only nationalism of the countries with the largest population should always win?

      Didn’t Ukraine give the maximum people’s votes to Russia? And vice versa?

      It is politicized by Russian politicians and TV lying about that.

      Maybe next year, Russia should be banned from Eurovision, since Russia is not European and doesn’t have a rule of law compatible with Europe.

      Russia prefers Oligharchs than democracy.

      Hail Putin

      Reply
    • Sammy

      At least the Americans are ashamed of cheaters like Lance Armstrong.

      Russia glorifies cheaters as national heroes.

      Reply
  7. Richard Lefew

    I cannot believe Bellingcat let this article on their site.

    From my experience, Bellingcat only knows one narrative, and it goes like this:

    RUSSIA DID IT!

    IT’S PUTIN”S FAULT.

    RUSSIA IS TERRIBLE!

    and the US and the west are shinning examples of freedom and justice, and only operate with the most idealistic goals, and most humane and transparent methods.

    Reply
  8. JCB

    @Richard Lefew – July 26, 2016
    It’s not about “narrative”, as you put it. It’s all about filtering out noise and giving readers some f.a.c.t.s or at least educated guesses. That’s the difference to Kiselev’s “reality creation”. As a free, self-thinking reader, I decide for myself, whether Russia did it, whose fault it is and, how nice Russia is. It’s not only Bellingcat that makes up my mind. Please recognize the true role of this agency: Bellingcat doesn’t tell me what to think, they just deliver fuel for my thinking process (and they do that good). Your conclusions written in capitals above are nothing but your personal nightmare. Get down, leave emotions aside and fight by facts.

    Reply

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