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The Russian military secret services would have ordered the letters to be sent to a Russian far-right group
22 Jan. () –
The authorities of the United States and several European countries believe that Russian military intelligence ordered the Russian Imperial Movement — a Russian far-right group — to send the letter bombs that were sent in November against the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, and other prominent targets, as explained by American sources quoted by the newspaper ‘The New York Times’.
The Imperial Russian Movement has two paramilitary training centers in Saint Petersburg and contacts with far-right organizations in various European countries, including Spain. It is also included in the list of terrorist organizations of the US State Department.
Several prominent members of the group have been in Spain and the investigations have revealed their relationship with Spanish far-right organizations, according to the ‘Times’ sources.
Specifically, the order to send the letter bombs would come from the Main Directorate of the High General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (GRU), which would thus seek to demonstrate its ability to perpetrate this type of action in European countries and also to test the capacity of these satellite groups in the face of a possible escalation of the conflict.
So far there are no indications that Moscow is preparing a campaign of attacks and sabotage in European capitals in retaliation for its support for Ukraine, but this could change if Russia does not achieve its objectives in Ukraine, highlights ‘The New York Times’.
“It appears to be a warning shot,” said Nathan Sales, who was the State Department’s counterterrorism coordinator under Donald Trump, when the Russian Imperial Movement was listed as a terrorist group. “Russia is sending a signal that it could use its terrorist affiliates to strike in the West’s backyard,” he added.
The GRU is considered one of the most aggressive Russian intelligence agencies and would have participated in actions such as the attempt to interfere in the 2016 US elections or the shooting down of a Malaysian plane over Ukraine in 2014, according to US sources.
One of the GRU units, Unit 29155, would be in charge of trying to destabilize several European countries with coup attempts and assassinations, according to US and European sources. This unit counts among its ranks with war veterans and its operation is so secret that its existence is unknown even to a large part of the GRU.
In the case of the letter bombs in Spain, those responsible belong to the 161st Specialized Training Center based in eastern Moscow, where Unit 29155 is also based, according to Washington.
The United States has been informed that the Spanish investigation has already identified several suspects involved in these attacks. The US and British secret services are collaborating in this investigation, according to the ‘Times’ sources.
IMPERIAL RUSSIAN MOVEMENT
The Russian Imperial Movement is a racist, white supremacist, anti-Semitic, tsarist monarchist, ultranationalist, and Russian Orthodox religious organization, as described by the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University.
He aspires to the restoration of the tsarist monarchy in Russia and is related to various neo-Nazi and supremacist groups in the United States and other European countries.
“The MIR has provided paramilitary training to neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups in Europe and is actively working to unite these groups in a common front against what they consider their enemies,” the United States warned when it included it on its list of terrorist organizations.
As leaders he cited Stanislav Anatolyevich Vorobyev, who founded the group in 2002 in Saint Petersburg; Denis Valiullovich Gariyev, leader of his armed wing, the Russian Imperial Legion, and Nikolai Nikolayevich Trushchalov, responsible for organizing activities abroad.
Washington links the MIR to two Swedes who carried out a series of bomb attacks in 2016 in Gothenburg, Sweden, against two refugee premises and a cafeteria. The suspects participated in a training circuit of the Russian group.
On November 24, a letter with explosive material addressed to the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, which had been sent by ordinary postal mail, was detected. The services of the Security Department of the Presidency of the Government detected the letter in the tasks of screening and filtering correspondence
Five other letters similar due to their characteristics and content to those received by the Embassy of Ukraine and the Embassy of the United States in Madrid, by the Instalaza company in Zaragoza, by the European Union Satellite Center located at the Torrejón Air Base and by the Ministry of Defence. A security guard from the Ukrainian Embassy was injured by the explosion of one of the devices.
On January 3, the judge of the National Court investigating the sending of this series of explosive letters agreed to open a new line of investigation in the case to carry out a series of investigations of a technological nature.