Several publications are reporting the passing of a former Russian intelligence officer named Anton Surikov, who died at the age of 48.
Axisglobe identifies Surikov as a shareholder of Far West LLC — reportedly a shadowy intelligence/military consulting group. Kavkaz Center, a Chechen website, reports that he was poisoned. Numerous reports link him to the CIA.
Surikov, born 1961 in Moscow, was the son of Victor Surikov, a designer of Soviet ICBMs. Anton Surikov was a man who at one time was apparently trusted by both sides in Russia’s bitter conflict with separatist rebels in Cechnya.
In the early 1990s, Surikov and Chechen rebel leader Shamil Basayev met when they both fought on behalf of separatists battling the Georgian government. Surikov commanded a detatchment of special forces for Russian military intelligence (GRU).
In 1994, he was seconded to Department of Defense Studies at King’s College, London University, which published two of his books on various aspects of Russia’s domestic and defense policies. One of Surikov’s books, Crime in Russia: International Implications is based on documents collected by Russia’s Federal Counterintelligence Service (FSK).
While at the institute, Surikov become an advisor in 1995 for the Institute of Defense Studies.
In September 1996, Yuri Maslyukov, president of the Duma’s Committee on Economic Policy, hired Surikov as his assistant. When Maslyukov became first deputy prime minister two years later, Surikov went to work in the Kremlin.
In 1999, Surikov used his contacts with Basayev to arrange a meeting between the Chechen rebel leader and a top Russian official, Alexander Voloshin.
Surikov and the two men met in the south of France at the villa of Iran-Contra figure Adnan Khashoggi, a wealthy Saudi arms merchant.
The meeting was secretly recorded by French intelligence and later leaked to the press and been the subject of much speculation ever since. (See this 2004 paper (.pdf) from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.)
When Putin took over as president, Surikov briefly worked into Russia’s Aircraft Corporation, MiG and then became chief of staff to the Duma committee on industry, construction and high technology.
In an interview published last week (dated 29 May) in the “Moscow News” (“Moskovskie Novosti”) weekly, former Russian military intelligence officer Anton Surikov charged that a substantial portion of the drugs produced in Afghanistan had been directly shipped from the Tajik capital Dushanbe on board Russian military planes, helicopters, and trains.
Surikov said: “You can come to an arrangement [with custom officials] so that the search of military transport planes remains purely formal. The same goes for train convoys carrying military cargo [to Russia from Tajikistan].”
According to his account, Afghan opium producers usually sold drugs to Tajik citizens who smuggled them into Tajikistan with the active complicity of Russian border guards. The drugs were then put on board military planes or trains en route to Russia, where they were sold to local criminal gangs.
Surikov retired from government service in 2002, according to his bio. He was affiliated with the Institute for Globalisation Studies, a think tank headed by a leftist professor.
He also served on the board of the Swiss firm Far West Ltd., which was closely affiliated with the Internet news site, Pravda-info. Far West said it “specializes in consulting work on questions of security in conducting business in regions of the world with unstable environments and hiring personnel for foreign private military companies.” The company said it had offices in Dubai, Afghanistan, Colombia, Kosovo, Georgia, and Russia.
Most recently, Surikov was providing informed speculation to the Financial Times on the mystery the Arctic Sea, a cargo ship that vanished off the coast of Portugal:
But Anton Surikov, a Russian security expert and former military intelligence officer, advances the theory that smugglers, with the backing of elements in Russia’s security services, may have loaded ammunition and anti-tank missiles bound for Hizbollah in Lebanon, and four Kh-55 cruise missiles to be fitted to Sukhoi-24 bombers for Iran, on to the ship as it underwent repairs in Kaliningrad.
Mr Surikov says he believes that when the the ship was boarded in the dead of night on July 24 off Sweden, the attackers found the weapons cache, photographed it as evidence and left.
His scenario fits with initial reports conveyed by police in Sweden that the crew reported being attacked by about 10 men posing as Swedish policemen who searched the ship and departed in an inflatable dinghy.
The photos were then shown, thinks Mr Surikov, to the UK and US security services – which arranged a second incursion as the Arctic Sea disappeared on August 1. “A behind-the-scenes trade between state powers then began,” he says.