305 GRU Officers Outed: Inadvertent Openness by Russian Intelligence

The sensational news today is the result of investigations following on from the arrest of four grushniki (GRU operatives) who, on 13 April this year, parked their car at the back of a Marriot Hotel  loaded with interception equipment to target the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, an intergovernmental institution in The Hague, the Netherlands. It was the OPCW that investigated the Novichok poison used by the GRU on 4 March in a clumsy attempt to assassinate former GRU officer Skripal’ in Salisbury, England.

The men intercepted and then expelled from the Netherlands (without their equipment) had an antenna aimed at the OPCW to intercept logins from the Wifi in the targeted offices. Of the four, two – Aleksei Morenets and Yevgeny Serebriakov – were cyber operatives; the other two – Oleg Sotnikov and Aleksei Minin – were logistical support. All four carried diplomatic passports in their own names, sequentially numbered. What became apparent to the Dutch and their allies was that the driving licence of one of them gave as its owner’s address that of the GRU at 20 Komsomol’skii Prospekt, unit 26165, where hacking of the US Democratic Party and other computers was carried out by APT28 (Fancy Bear/ Pawn Storm.)

It turned out on closer investigation that GRU officers regularly give their workplace as their address when registering for their driving licence, evidently to avoid fines for poor driving. The Moscow traffic police are notoriously corruptible because they are so badly paid. So obtaining access to the registration data base for Moscow drivers is not difficult . Using the address at 20 Komsomol’skii Prospekt (telephone number 2190518), a list of 305 GRU operatives has now been uncovered, along with their passport numbers and their mobile phone numbers.

(“Na adres voiskovoi chasti GRU, svyazannoi s khakerami, zaregistrirovany mashiny 305 sotrudnikov. Morenets – sredi nikh”,https://theins.ru/politika/120430.)