Russian military intelligence may be behind mysterious Havana syndrome, journalists say in new study


The unexplained Havana syndrome takes its name from the capital of Cuba, where the first people were said to have been affected at the end of 2016. These were employees of the American and Canadian embassies in Havana. Since then, dozens of other U.S. officials in the U.S., China, Russia, Germany and Austria have developed similar symptoms. The victims complained of dizziness, headache, hearing damage, confusion and memory loss.

Journalists from research platform The Insider, from the German newspaper Der Spiegel and from the TV program 60 Minutes of the American channel CBS spoke with some of those victims. They also dug into Russian government documents and travel and location data. Their conclusion: the infamous Unit 29155 of the Russian military intelligence service GRU is behind the attacks that allegedly cause the health problems. According to the investigative journalists, the GROe experimented with special weapons. Leaders of Unit 29155 received awards and promotions for their contributions to the development of “non-lethal acoustic weapons.” That’s a term the Russians use for energy weapons that emit both sound and radio frequencies. The purpose of these weapons is to damage the victim’s brain.

The researchers derived their conclusion, among other things, from statements from victims who claim to have seen Russian agents from the unit in question around the time the symptoms appeared. Indeed, location data examined showed that the spies were in their vicinity shortly before or during the attacks on the victims.

“It just pierced my ears, down my left side, it felt like it came through the window, in my left ear,” says the wife of a US embassy worker in the Georgian capital Tbilisi about such an alleged acoustic attack in October 2021. “I I immediately felt my head filling up and a piercing headache.” On images from the security cameras she saw a black Mercedes standing in front of the gate of their home. She went to look and saw a tall, slender man. She took a photo of him with her smartphone. Three years later she recognized that man in a photo: Albert Averjanov, member of Unit 29155 of the Russian military intelligence service GRU. That department was founded by 56-year-old Andrej Averjanov, the father of Albert Averjanov, who was only 23 when he appeared at the gate of the American embassy official in Tbilisi in October 2021. General Andrei Averjanov now heads the GRU’s operations in Africa. His son Albert took his first steps in the espionage world at an early age, at the age of twenty in Geneva in 2019. Against the rules of the GROe, because Albert Averjanov basically stood out too much with his tall figure of 1 meter 88 and his blond hair. head of hair.

According to the investigative journalists, the first alleged attacks with acoustic weapons did not take place in Havana in 2016, but two years earlier in Frankfurt, Germany. Then a US government employee was knocked unconscious with what looked like a powerful energy beam. The victim suffered brain damage. He was able to identify a member of Unit 29155 in Geneva.

Yulia and Sergei Skripal were poisoned with novichok in Salisbury, British, in March 2018. The perpetrators were three members of Unit 29155.Image rv

The journalists point out that the results of their investigation are not consistent with previous conclusions of American intelligence services. According to an interim report from the CIA from early 2022, the explanation for Havana syndrome was unlikely to be found in the Russians or in any other country, at least for the majority of the thousand cases reported to the US government. According to the CIA report at the time, it would not be a large-scale foreign operation against the Americans. Previously, undiscovered environmental factors, stress or medical conditions would account for the majority of health problems.

The New York Times wrote at the time that many victims of the Havana syndrome did not agree with those conclusions. They felt betrayed by the government, which the first victim of the Havana syndrome in Cuba also considers not impossible. “What this investigation shows is that the intelligence community is either unable to fulfill its most important basic function or is seeking to cover up the facts and psychologically manipulate affected employees and the public,” The Insider quoted the CIA official as saying. without mentioning him by name.

Unit 29155 is infamous within the American intelligence services. “Their sphere of operations is global, they carry out lethal operations and acts of sabotage,” a former senior CIA officer and Russia expert told The Insider. “Their mission is to find, recover and finish, all in support of Vladimir Putin’s imperial dreams.” Since the unit’s reorganization in 2008, this operational team has been engaged in political destabilization campaigns around the world, including murder and sabotage. For example, three members of Unit 29155 carried out the poisoning of British double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, British, in 2018 with the nerve agent Novichok.

The US embassy in the Cuban capital Havana, the place from which the mysterious syndrome took its name.Image AFP

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Russian military intelligence mysterious Havana syndrome journalists study


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