Sitnikov's case. From history of GRU failures - Part II
07/12/2010 12:58
Levan Kiknadze
The Club of Exsperts

See part I...

...At the interrogation Alexander Sitnikov completely confessed to his crime and told the following: in 1982-1991 he studied in the Ryazan Institute for the Airborne Troops where students of this military school studied one of foreign languages. Simultaneously with a foreign language they were taught rules of conduction of intelligence. Graduates of the school were sent (distributed) to airborne divisions. After graduation he was sent to airborne battalion of the military part 48427 deployed in the town of Romantsevo (Moscow district). Sitnikov worked as a translator in the above mentioned battalion. He was responsible for translation of foreign materials and literature.

On December 24th 1993 head of the military unit Nikolay Nikolaevich Vasilchenko and his deputy Captain Alexander Borisovich Avshev called him and told him that he was included in the group that were to be sent to Abkhazia. And he would be instructed about his task in the place. After this the entire group that included Colonel Samartsev, Colonel of Medical Sciences Bazarny, Colonel Ulianov, Colonel Kravchuk, etc - altogether 15 persons - were flown to Abkhazia. The group was headed by Lieutenant General Chindarov.

At the Bombora military aerodrome in Gudauta they were met by head of the operational group of Russian troops deployed in Abkhazia Lieutenant General Sorokin. At the arrival Sorokin took Lieutenant General Chandarov along with him while Sitnikov and other members of the group took a bus and went to Gudauta where they were placed in one of sanatoriums. This sanatorium also housed other military servicemen of Russian armed forces. He was in the sanatorium for 10-15 days. After that he received an instruction from one of his superiors together with Colonel Samartsev to go to one of the Russian battalions that was deployed in Sukhumi. The same superior instructed him according to which he should have gather information as to what was going on in Georgian battalions, how Georgian militaries were behaving, what was attitude of Georgian militaries towards Russian armed forces, what was the operational situation in the city, what was attitude of local population towards existing processes and so on. He should have delivered the gathered information via radio communication that existed in the military unit using a call sign "the sixth".

He should get in contact every day at a specified time - at nine in the morning and five in the afternoon. He had not received any particular instructions from "the sixth". On March 23-24th during one of the radio communications he received an instruction from "the sixth" to meet the next Russian helicopter and receive an envelope from one of the crew members. The next day he met the helicopter and received a promised envelope. There was one part of a five-ruble banknote in the envelope and a letter with a description of an appearance of a person that he was to meet. The letter described the person in the following way: a man of average height of 168-170 cm, 40 years-old, thin, with a rolled newspaper in his left hand. And a place of the meeting was to be a bus stop in front of School N 14 in Sukhumi near the book store "Military book". A password was also stated: "hello comrade "Kurd" and in case of a response they were to compare their parts of a torn in the middle five-rubble banknote. The letter also stated that the bus stop was situated near the Sanatorium of Moscow Military District and the day of the meeting was Sunday, March 28th from 11am to 12 pm.

After he received a letter Sitnikov informed "the sixth" about this and the latter gave him instruction to inform him again after every meeting with the object. After this, on March 28th just after 11am Sitnikov met with a mentioned person at a specified place. This person informed him that four battalions of the Georgian armed forces are deployed in village of Achadara, as well as in so-called Masivi and on the Gumista. Each battalions consisted of no less than 500 militaries. At the same time there were 40, 56 and 50 IFV and APC (armoured personnel carrier) and 20 units of tanks in these areas respectively. According to the source allegedly Georgians offered him a military job in the second battalion. He was also interested in a fate of his brother who was stranded on the Abkhazian –controlled territory, in New Athos. He was also interested if he could get help in transferring his brother to Sukhumi.

After receiving this information Sitnikov gave "Z" another instruction – to get more specific information about deployment of Georgian artillery and movement of military equipment around the village of Achadara. The source also informed that additional military servicemen arrived in Sukhumi from different regions of Georgia and indicated places of deployment of their headquarters – two in new rayon in Sukhumi, one in the near a new department store, and other two in a boarding school and behind the building of the Council of Ministers. At the end of the meeting Sitnikov informed the source about a place and time of another meeting. In accordance to instructions after the meeting at 5 pm Sitnikov got in touch and reported results of the meeting to "the sixth" who told him to continue his work.

As it was agreed on the first meeting just after 11am on Wednesday March 31st 1993 Sitnikov met with the source at the indicated place and told him that his brother was ok and did not want to move to Sukhumi. In its turn the source informed him that in Sukhumi there were mainly local Sukhumian fighters and that military servicemen of the Tbilisi Battalion took turns when going to the war positions. They were on duty for two days and after that they rested.

After this discussion they started to talk about everyday issues as there were a lot of people around them. And then they were arrested by law enforcers.

A excerpt from the protocol of interrogation of Sitnikov:

Question: You are suspected in committing a criminal act that is specified in clause 66 of the Georgian Constitution (espionage) and which is expressed in gathering military information that was to be used to the detriment of Georgian defence capability. Do you plead guilty to an accusation that was brought against you?

Answer: Yes, I confess that with my actions I was damaging defence capability of Georgia. But hereby I should note that I, as a military serviceman, in my actions I was guided by orders taken through radio communication and in accordance of orders of a superior officer. In particular, I do not know who has the call sign "the sixth".

We present to a reader without our comments a statement of head of the operative group of the Defence Ministry of the Russian Federation that was deployed in Abkhazia at the time Lieutenant General Alexeev dated April 1st 1993 and a response letter of head of information and intelligence department of Abkhazia Major General I. Keshelava dated April 1st 1993 that the latter sent to General Alexeev. The above papers were included in documents that were attached to the said criminal case.

A statement of an operative group of the Defence Ministry of the Russian Federation deployed in Abkhazia

According to a statement of the Georgina television that was made on March 31st 1993, representatives of the Georgian security services arrested military servicemen of the Russian Army Alexander Nikolaevich Sitnikov in Sukhumi. He was accused that allegedly he committed actions against Georgian statehood for which there are no grounds and proofs. This fact serves provocative purposes that are directed against military servicemen of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation when the latters even without this blackmail and provocations have intolerable everyday and service conditions.

Lieutenant Sitnikov was sent to Sukhumi 901 separate battalion to practically assist in realization of tasks that have no connection with intelligence activity and interference in internal affairs of sovereign Georgia. As it is known information about Georgian armed forces are of no interest to the Russian Federation. Lieutenant Sitnikov has a military specialization that has no connection with intelligence activity.

I consider ungrounded and provocative arrest of the military serviceman of the Armed Forces of the Russia on the basis of falsified materials by special department of the republic of Georgia to be an extreme action that is aimed at destabilization of relations between Georgian and Russia.

Heads of operative group of the Defence Ministry of the Russian Federation request the Georgian government and heads of its Armed Forces to treat extremely carefully status of inviolability of military servicemen of Russia and respect of their dignity. Responsibility is now completely shifted on the Georgian side for any provocative actions and violation of basic human rights on its controlled territory, especially in Sukhumi where lawlessness and all kinds of harassment towards persons of non-Georgian ethnicity reigns.

We suggest:

At 10am of April 1st 1993, immediately after receiving this statement-protest, the military serviceman of the Russian Army to be returned completely unharmed to the 901 separate Airborne Battalion. Otherwise heads of the Russian troops will be forced to use force to prevent lawless actions against Russian militaries.

Colonel General A. D. Alexeev

Operative group of the Defence Ministry of the Russian Federation in Abkhazia (Gudaurta)
Colonel General Alexeev

Colonel General,

Yesterday, March 341st 1993, the Georgian Television broadcasted a statement of the press service of the information and intelligence department about the arrest of officer of the Russian Army, Lieutenant Alexander Nikolaevich Sitnikov in Sukhumi.

As our information that was broadcasted on TV about arrest of Lieutenant Sitnikov was not heard carefully we are forced to again state that information and intelligence department of Abkhazia is ready to give any representative of yours that is familiar with legal materials that confirm receipt of military intelligence information by A. Sitnikov from his contact agent in Sukhumi.

As to the tone of your statement it definitely does not comply with international norms of inter-state relations and represents a clear example of forced pressure.

Colonel General we explain for your information that a status of inviolability dies not cover military servicemen of The Russian Armed Forces that are deployed on the territory of the Republic.

Head of information and intelligence department of Abkhazia

Major General I. Keshelava

Later, the Russian side was forced to recognize criminal actions of Sitnikov. On April 25th 1993, 25 days after Sitnikov's arrest, he was exchanged for captured Georgian militaries.

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