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Russia Revives Wet Work
by James Dunnigan
November 14, 2011

During the Cold War, Russia (then the Soviet Union) was infamous for using assassins overseas to kill people, often exiled Russians, who were considered a threat. That sort of thing stopped, for a while, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. But in the last decade, the Russian "wet work" (assassination) teams are back. This is considered an intelligence operation, as it is often used to eliminate those supplying foreigners with damaging information about Russia.

How many people have been targeted by the SVR (foreign intelligence successor to the KGB) and GRU (military intelligence) SVR death squads are unknown. It is believed to be at least a dozen in the last decade. The most common targets have been members of Chechen terrorist organizations. Six of these Chechens have been killed in Turkey in the last four years. All were killed with a pistol used mainly by the Russian special operations troops. Another Chechen terrorist leader was killed in Qatar in 2004. In that same year, a former Russian intelligence agent was killed, in Britain, using radioactive poison. British intelligence traced the attacker back to Russia, but the Russian government denies everything.

There have been several hits that were known to have been aborted, usually because of local police or intelligence agencies interfering. Other hits were only suspected, because the target was taken out in such a way that it could have been an accident.

Russia denies any involvement with any of this, and they always have. However, after 1991, a few witnesses came forward to confirm Russian involvement in Cold War era killings, but most Russian operatives kept quiet, even after the Soviet Union disappeared. It is believed that some of the Cold War era killers may still be in business, although mainly in a supervisory or training capacity.


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