Unit 29155: a top-secret elite unit inside Russia’s GRU intelligence agency linked to coup plots, poison, hacking, sabotage

    On March 20, 2012, a decree signed by Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov was published by the Russian government. The decree set out a system of payments to military servicemen “for special achievements in the service.”

    Section 4 of the order, which was first highlighted by RFE/RL’s Russian Service, stated that "servicemen of military units 99450, 74455, and the structural unit of military unit 29155 are paid a monthly supplement.”

    At the time, little attention was paid to the decree: Little was known about the units, which fell under the umbrella of the feared-and-respected military intelligence agency known as the GRU.

    In the years that followed, however, these units burst into the public eye appearing in indictments, sanctions announcements, and political statements from Washington D.C. to the Black Sea.

    Unit 29155 in particular has grabbed outsized attention, having been linked by 2018 to an alleged coup plot in Montenegro and the near-fatal poisonings of a former Russian military intelligence officer in England and an arms dealer in Bulgaria.

    Now, Czech government allegations that the unit’s members were behind a 2014 explosion at a Czech ammunition depot have blown up relations between Prague and Moscow, with both sides expelling diplomats and exchanging angry rhetoric.

    “These are the guys you send in because you want to break stuff,” said Mark Galeotti, an expert on Russian security services.

    Here’s a look at the Russian military intelligence unit that has captured the attention of Western intelligence. MORE

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    Evarist Chahali

    Evarist Chahali

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