Report: Russia Brings Back Soviet-Era Spy Hunting Squads in Ukraine

Report: Russia Brings Back Soviet-Era Spy Hunting Squads in Ukraine

Russia has reportedly revived SMERSH, a Soviet-era intelligence organization, in parts of Ukraine that it illegally annexed in recent years, according to Newsweek. The information was based on comments made by Andrey Gurulyov, a Russian Parliament member and former military commander. Gurulyov’s remarks were widely circulated on Telegram after his appearance on Russian state television channel Russia-1. SMERSH, an acronym for “death to spies,” was originally created in the 1940s by Joseph Stalin to combat German spies infiltrating the Soviet military.

Gurulyov stated, “We talked about SMERSH, today we created a department that works in approximately the same way in new territories,” referring to the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia, which are under Russia’s illegal occupation following a 2022 referendum. The move has been deemed illegal by many western countries, led by the United States.

The Russian government has not yet commented on the report. SMERSH operated until 1946 and was notorious for its arrest, torture, and execution of thousands of individuals, including its own agents suspected of sabotage, desertion, or disloyalty. Gurulyov also suggested that a similar structure should be reinstated in Russia.

He explained, “Today, they are trying to interfere with our operations in non-frontline areas. I talked to the Far East, where we have nuclear submarines and where our ships are based. They may also be in danger, so we need to approach protection issues a little differently.” The conflict in Ukraine shows no signs of slowing down, with ongoing clashes between Russian and Ukrainian forces in the east and south of the country.

Ukrainian officials recently reported that Russian forces are assaulting the industrial town of Avdiivka from two new directions, as Moscow expands its efforts to capture the almost encircled town. Moscow has been attempting to seize Avdiivka for nearly two months, making it the most intense hotspot on the sprawling frontline.