April 19, 2024

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Romantic visits in Bavaria. Like Russian spies, Putin’s daughter has been traveling to the West without authorization for years.

Romantic visits in Bavaria.  Like Russian spies, Putin’s daughter has been traveling to the West without authorization for years.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, with his political agenda, has his sights set not only on Ukraine, but on the entire free world. (archive image)

Mikhail Klimentiev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Russians travel around Europe disguised as tourists – often with the intention of upsetting the Western world. New revelations show that even Putin’s daughter was able to get around unmolested – including by armed bodyguards.

Russia’s war against democratically organized states began long before the illegal attack on Ukraine. Over the years, anyone online on social media has been able to observe how Russian troll factories do everything they can to create chaos through fake news and instrumentalize “angry citizen” movements like “fringe thinkers” to make them successful.

It is no longer a secret that Russian forces successfully sow discord daily through channels like Russia Today, Telegram, Facebook, YouTube, and seek to dominate political debates in the West.

Planned actions against democratic governments

But that is only one side. For decades, Putin’s regime has sought to destabilize the Western world, particularly through espionage, cyber attacks and the killing of opposition members.

Ever since the jailing of businessman Mikhail Kordokovsky in 2003 and the murders of Alexander Litvinenko and Anna Politkovskaya in 2006, long before the annexation of Crimea in 2014, it should have been clear that Putin’s Russia was biased, never compliant. Democratic agenda.

Putin’s daughter on a love trip

Investigative research by “Spiegel”, “Bellingcat”, “The Insider”, the Italian daily newspaper “La Repubblica” and the Russian publishing site Istories has now revealed how easy it is for Russians loyal to Putin to infiltrate Western countries and find informants there. Recruiting, spying on technology projects, tracking down and killing opponents of the regime, or gathering information for large-scale attacks on officials and companies’ IT infrastructures.

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In 2016-2020, the daughter of Vladimir Putin Katerina Tikhonova Has traveled from Russia to Germany more than 20 times – with armed bodyguards. Ignoring local bodies.

April 21, 2022, Bavaria, Tegernsee: A sailing boat sails across Lake Tegernsee in the sun.  Photo: Sven Hoppe/dpa +++ dpa Image Radio +++ (KEYSTONE/DPA/Sven Hoppe)
Vladimir Putin’s daughter Kateryna Tikhonova and her bodyguards have repeatedly rented luxury hotels in Tegernsee, Bavaria, unnoticed by German authorities. (archive image)

Sven Hopp / Keystone

Katerina Tikhonova has stayed in Bavarian luxury hotels many times – probably mainly for her boyfriend Igor Selensky Appointed director of the Bavarian State Ballet in 2016 to meet. Zelensky maintains close ties to the Kremlin and the Putin family. After his time in Munich, he was appointed to the board of directors of the National Russian Cultural Heritage Fund. One of his tasks: the creation of a cultural center on the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, which was annexed in 2014.

I just wandered

German officials are now increasingly aware that they may have been too careless in their handling of Russian “tourists.” Like his armed bodyguards, Tikhonova was able to enter Bavaria unmolested and reside in Tegernsee. This raises the question of both diplomatic procedures and security-related aspects.

Meanwhile stir Opposition in local councils Against wealthy Russians who have invested heavily in real estate around Lake Tegernsee or Garmisch-Partenkirchen. After the start of the war in Ukraine in February 2022, the question arises as to which Russian assets are subject to sanctions and which are not. And then there is the question: What are the goals of the Russians in the middle of Europe?

Russian Travelers on Government Service

According to “Spiegel” research, a large number of Russian spies have now been uncovered in Europe – some of Tikhonova’s bodyguards may also be assigned to Putin’s presidential guard FSO. According to “Spiegel”, SPD interior expert Sebastian Fiedler criticizes the fact that there are still no strategies to counter Russian espionage activities.

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So Roderich Kieswetter, the CDU’s foreign affairs expert in the Bundestag, has called for Russians to no longer be issued with tourist visas. “The visa ban is […] It is not only a moral issue but also a question of our security interests.”

Kieswetter’s suggestion is not without reason: according to “Spiegel”, about 3,000 agents of the Russian foreign intelligence service SWR are said to be operating in Western Europe – many of them disguised as diplomats. Additionally, there is Putin’s secret assassin commando 29’155, which is responsible for political assassinations.

Cyber ​​attacks on public infrastructure and organizations

According to Spiegel, Russia’s attack on Ukraine was accompanied by an attack on the opposition’s internet infrastructure: the aim was to weaken the communications of the Ukrainian military, the control of German wind turbines, which also use the services of the American provider Viasat. , the disruption occurred at essentially the same time. According to Microsoft, since the beginning of the war of aggression against Ukraine, the Russians by June Hacker attack Registered in 128 companies in 42 countries including Poland, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Turkey and other NATO countries.

Archive - June 17, 2022, Brandenburg, Seiversdorf: in the Oder-Spree district in eastern Brandenburg
German wind turbines were also affected by a Russian hacker attack on Ukrainian military infrastructure in February. (archive image)

Patrick Blule/Keystone

The threat of Russian espionage has been underestimated for years

For years Germany had relied on deterrence and “transformation by trade” and therefore downplayed the danger of Russian espionage attacks after Putin’s calm speech to the German Bundestag in 2001, despite Russian aggression against the Chechen capital Grozny.

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Since then, Russian spies have been caught repeatedly across Europe, seeking insider knowledge of Western space technologies or investigations by the International Criminal Court in The Hague into Russian war crimes.

Meanwhile, awareness of the threat posed by Russian espionage has grown in Europe. For example, German Interior Minister Nancy Fasser recently presented a new cybersecurity agenda to better deal with the current threat.