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The Insider: 2 Russians running GRU safe house in Greece outed as spies

by Chris York April 29, 2024 9:57 PM 2 min read
An aerial view of the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces building, also known as the Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU, July 6, 2023, in Moscow, Russia. (Contributor/Getty Images)
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Two Russian-born Czech citizens ran a hotel in northern Greece that doubled as a safe house for an infamous unit of Russia's military intelligence agency (GRU) as it carried out bombings and poisonings across Europe, an investigation by The Insider has found.

Husband and wife Nikolay and Elena Saposnikov ran the Villa Elena, a three-story hotel in Frama, Halkidiki, which, according to the report, hosted members of the Kremlin's "most grimly accomplished assassination and sabotage squad," Unit 29155, on a regular basis for the last 15 years.

"(The couple) are Russian 'illegals,' or spies operating outside of diplomatic cover, who spent decades living under false pretenses as naturalized citizens of Czechia," The Insider wrote.

Unit 29155 has been behind some of Russia's most notorious recent hostile acts on foreign soil including the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the U.K. in 2018, and the deadly ammunition depot explosions in Czechia in 2014.

Czech police conclude Russian agents behind deadly 2014 ammunition depot blasts
Russian military intelligence operatives were responsible for deadly ammunition depot explosions in Czechia in 2014, the Czech police said on April 29 following a three-year investigation.

"While both Saposnikov spouses engaged in espionage, the wife, Saposnikova, 62, appears to have been directly integrated with Unit 29155," The Insider wrote.

Referencing a report from Czech police also published on April 29 that concluded Russian military intelligence operatives were responsible for the 2014 Czechia bombings, it added: "As such, Czech investigators have concluded, she likely directed and supervised her husband’s – and possibly their son’s – activities in support of Russian state interests."

"The family’s clandestine duties ranged from intelligence-gathering to logistical facilitation, providing safe havens, recruitment efforts, and even aiding in securing physical access for GRU operatives conducting sabotage missions."

These operatives included Alexander Mishkin and Anatoliy Chepiga, the two main suspects in both the Skripal poisonings and the Czechia bombings.

Earlier this month another report from The Insider uncovered evidence linking the mysterious health condition known as the Havana Syndrome to Unit 29155, which reportedly used directed energy weapons to target overseas U.S. government personnel.

Russian GRU unit linked to mysterious attacks on US officials abroad
A collaborative investigation by The Insider uncovered evidence linking the mysterious health condition known as the Havana Syndrome to members of Russia’s military intelligence agency. GRU Unit 29155 reportedly used directed energy weapons to target overseas U.S. government personnel.
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