NYT scares Europe with GRU saboteurs

The poisoning of the Skripals in Britain and the Bulgarian arms baron, as well as the attempted coup in Montenegro, could have been the same secret GRU unit, writes The New York Times, citing interlocutors in Western security agencies.
Origin source
The unit known as 29155 is engaged in “destabilizing” activities in Europe, security sources from four Western countries told The New York Times. It’s impossible to understand how the group is mobilized and where, and when its employees will strike, the newspaper’s interlocutors say.

What is known about the "secret unit of the GRU"

The unit is based in the 161st Special Purpose Specialist Training Center, the publication claims. It is managed by the GRU. His officers often travel to European countries. Some employees have rewards for wars in Afghanistan, Chechnya and Ukraine, NYT writes (Russia denies the presence of its military in Ukraine). According to the newspaper, the unit is so secret that not even all GRU employees are aware of its existence. “It has been active for several years throughout Europe. It came as a surprise that the Russians, the GRU, this unit worked freely and were extremely hostile in friendly countries. It was shocking, ”one source told NYT.

The publication found mention of unit 29155 in the 2012 "directive of the Ministry of Defense" on awarding allowances to fighters of three special forces for "special merits in military service." Detachments 74455 were also mentioned in the document (NYT claims to be one of two groups of hackers who hacked the servers of the US Democratic Party before the elections in 2016) and 99450 (the newspaper believes that he participated in the annexation of Crimea in 2014). The allowances to the fighters of these units are stated in the order of the Minister of Defense of March 21, 2012.

A retired GRU officer told NYT that unit 29155 specializes in "sabotage missions in groups or individually - explosions, killings, whatever." “Serious guys served there. They worked undercover as international agents, ”the source said. The publication did not name his name.
"Sloppy work"

It’s division 29155 that includes Alexander Mishkin and Anatoly Chepiga (“Petrov and Boshirov”), whom the UK authorities have accused of poisoning the ex-GRU colonel Sergei Skripal, NYT claims. According to the newspaper, exactly one year before the unsuccessful attempt at the assassination, Mishkin, together with Sergey Pavlov and Sergey Fedotov, traveled to the UK - perhaps for training. Then the Western intelligence agencies found that Pavlov and Fedotov were in a group trying to poison the Bulgarian arms dealer Emilian Gebrev (also unsuccessful), the newspaper continues. Finally, the same unit was engaged in a coup d'etat in Montenegro.

European officials are surprised at the apparent “sloppiness” in the unit’s operations, according to The New York Times. It is possible that more successful operations of the detachment remain to be learned, sources say. How much the Kremlin is worried about failures 29155 is a question, the newspaper writes.

Close-knit, but not rich "elite"

The unit looks cohesive, writes NYT. She found a photo from the wedding of the daughter of Andrei Averyanov, whom the publication calls the leader of the group. The wedding was in 2017, in the photo Averyanov along with Anatoly Chepiga.

Averyanov graduated from the Military Academy in Tashkent in 1988, NYT claims. The newspaper suggests that he participated in both Chechen wars, in 2015 was awarded the medal of Hero of Russia. Averyanov lives in an old Soviet-built house a few blocks from headquarters, drives a "five" - ​​VAZ 21053 of 1996 of release, the newspaper describes. NYT draws the conclusion that a group of small budget: this, in her opinion, and indicates that the unit employees abroad live in cheap hotels.

NYT sent a request to the press secretary of Russian President Dmitry Peskov, he advised NYT to forward the request for comment to the Ministry of Defense. The ministry did not respond.