Hackers leak emails from Putin adviser on Kremlin's Ukraine plotting

By bne IntelliNews October 27, 2016

CyberJunta, a group of Ukrainian hackers with ties to the country’s SBU secret service, has leaked thousands of confidential emails allegedly coming from the email account of Vladislav Surkov, a key advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Ukraine, detailing Kremlin subversion plans there and in other parts of the former Soviet Union.

The emails support claims that Moscow exerts continual and extensive influence over pro-Russian breakaway regions in Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, despite the Kremlin’s rejection of the correspondence as fake.

According to the leaked messages, Kremlin officials approved government appointments, laws and press statements for Georgia’s breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Moldova’s Transnistria and the rebel-held Donetsk and Luhansk regions of East Ukraine.

“This is the clearest yet indication of high-level Russian involvement in the organisation of the separatist republics,” Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former Nato secretary-general, was quoted by the Times newspaper as saying. “It demonstrates Russia’s subversive tactics, which is why I’m calling for sanctions against Russia to have a 12-month renewal.”

The Russian leadership strenuously denies providing military support to pro-Moscow rebels in East Ukraine, despite the capture of numerous armed Russian servicemen there. But the emails fill out the picture of an entire network of coordination from Moscow, including in the management of the rebel-held areas, from the early days of the conflict that quickly engulfed the Donbas region in 2014.

One email dated from May that year, weeks after a pro-Russian insurgency broke out in the region, received by Surkov and quoted by the British newspaper, lists prospective ministers for the rebel government for the Kremlin’s approval.

Another message, sent in June 2014 to Surkov by rebel leader Denis Pushilin contains budget calculations for a press office and newspaper and suggests that the project was funded directly by Putin’s office, the Times reported.

The Kremlin said the emails were fabricated, with Interfax quoting Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying that Surkov doesn’t use email at all.

Meanwhile, Russian entrepreneur Yevgeny Chichvarkin, who currently lives in exile in London, confirmed the authenticity of his email exchange with Surkov in 2013-2014, which was among the leaked emails, in a post on his Facebook account.

Related Articles

Georgia's sheep rearing industry decimated by favouritism, OCCRP investigation reveals

Favouritism has decimated the number of Georgian companies that rear and sell sheep, an investigation by Studio Monitor, an associate of the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), ... more

Deaths of Russian tourists leave Abkhazia at risk of losing economic lifeline over security failures

Abkhazia, a Georgian breakaway region that is highly reliant on Russian backing, risks losing vital flows of Russian tourism that support its economy. Two incidents there in the past month have ... more

Putin's rumoured visit to Abkhazia attracts criticism from Tbilisi

The news that Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning a visit to the breakaway region of Abkhazia on August 8 has been met with staunch criticism from Tbilisi. ... more