Navy man put in charge of Russian military intelligence GRU after predecessor’s death – reports
Kostyukov, who used to be the acting head of the GRU, has now fully taken the reins at the agency, a source told Tass. The assignment was reportedly made by Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu in early December. However, news of it was only made public on Monday, again proving the high secrecy of GRU activities.
There has so far been no official announcement regarding Kostyukov’s new job. If reports are confirmed the 43-year-old will be the first Navy sailor to lead the agency since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Previous spy chief, Colonel General Igor Korobov, died on November 21 after what the Defense Ministry said was “a long and serious illness.” Media reports claimed that Korobov died from cancer.
He was the second head of the GRU to pass away in the space of just two years after Colonel General Igor Sergun died of heart attack outside Moscow in 2016. However, there was speculation in foreign media that Sergun was actually killed during a top secret mission in Lebanon.
New spy chief Kostyukov has played an important role in planning Russia’s operations in Syria. Last year, he was awarded the highest state honor, the Hero of Russia, for his “bravery and heroism.”
The man, who initially received Navy training, but joined the GRU after graduating from the Military Diplomatic Academy, was blacklisted by the US in 2016 along with other Russian officials.Also on rt.com Death of GRU chief sends Western media and pundits into tailspin of conspiracy theories
The GRU has made headlines on numerous occasions in the West in recent years. The US, UK and some European nations have blamed the illusive agency of election meddling, carrying out cyberattacks as well as poisoning former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury this March.
Russia has repeatedly denied the claims, which were not supported by evidence.
Ironically, GRU isn’t even the agency’s actual name, but only the Cold War time abbreviation, by which the West remembers it. The secret service, now headed by Kostyukov, is officially called the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation or GU for short.
Speaking that the agency’s 100th birthday in November, Vladimir Putin suggested that its internationally-recognized old name should be brought back.
“It’s not clear where the word ‘intelligence’ disappeared [to]. Why don’t we go back to the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU),” the Russian president said.
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