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How Russian FSB used Latvian parliamentarian to meddle in European politics

MEP from Latvia Tatiana Zhdanok turned out to be an FSB agent.

June 01, 2024

Due to the great interest in this topic, we publish some details of its similarities. As it turns out, for many years Zdanok not only helped to spread disinformation using the rostrum of the European Parliament, but also "leaked" the FSB all the information she could get using its status as an MEP. Her reports to the Fifth FSB Service played a role in the violent dispersal of the Euromaidan in 2014 and, for example, in the Kremlin's pressure on Moldova during negotiations with the EU. The documents also show the direct participation of the FSB in the organization of financing for Zhdanok. Now she faces a criminal case in Latvia, but she has already prepared a "spare airfield" on Valdai.

"Yanukovich is ready for a power scenario"

On January 28, 2014, at the height of Euromaidan, the European Parliament sent a delegation to Kiev, whose members met with both Yanukovych and Ukrainian opposition forces. Tatiana Zhdanok, a MEP from Latvia, was one of the delegates sent to Kiev. But, unlike her colleagues, as a result of the trip, she sent a report not to the European Parliament - but to her curator from the Fifth Service of the FSB Sergei Beltyukov. In her report, she summarizes: the Maidan will not dissolve itself, and Yanukovych does not have enough will to disperse by force.

"Sergey, I'm sorry for the delay in answering, but I have a solid time trouble because of this trip to Kiev squeezed in before the Strasbourg session. Impressions are contradictory. Yanukovych is too cunning to be bitten during an hour and a half conversation. But it feels like he's ready for a power scenario. Indirect evidence is the fact that deputy Kolesnichenko urgently took the family from Kiev to Sevastopol (with the transfer of his son to the Sevastopol school). Although Vadim assures that he took this step because of the threats he receives. On the other hand, some observers are inclined to believe that Yanukovych will very soon sign an agreement with the EU, having a maximum of bonuses on all sides. He looked quite cheerful, calm and confident at the meeting with us on Monday. I thought he should have been more confused. Our society (7 people led by Spiegel) was clearly comfortable, and after his own entry and our short speeches, he rolled up for 45 minutes a story about all the twists and turns in connection with the signing of the agreement with the EU and the IMF. Well, on the Maidan, where we walked on Sunday late at night, the feelings are mixed: some mixture of farce, drama, horror and comedy (with a weight to the third component in this list). It won't dissolve so easily. T. Zh."

On the same day, Beltyukov succinctly replied: "Thank you!!!"

On February 20, two weeks later, the FSB sent its own delegation to Kiev headed by the head of the Fifth Service of the FSB Sergei Beseda. On the same day, police snipers began shooting to defeat the protesters, dozens of people died. However, the use of force did not help, and Yanukovych had to flee to Russia.

And on May 2, 2014, clashes took place in Odessa between "anti-Maidanites" organized by the Kremlin and pro-Ukrainian activists. "Anti-Maidanists" attacked the activists and shot one of them, after which the angry activists turned the provocateurs to flee, and they took refuge in the Odessa House of Trade Unions. The parties began to throw Molotov cocktails at each other, there was a fire. Activists helped people escape from the burning building, but more than 40 people died. Kremlin propaganda chose this incident to declare the "Russian genocide" and began to use all resources to spread its version of events. Zhdanok was also connected.

In June, Beltyukov asks her to organize a photo exhibition dedicated to the events in the House of Trade Unions. Zhdanok zealously takes up the case and holds a whole series of events dedicated to these events, including within the walls of the European Parliament.

There were also personal meetings - for example, in Moscow in "Chocolate" on Lubyanka. Coming to Moscow, Zhdanok not only met with a curator from the FSB, but also performed in propaganda talk shows, such as the Solovyov show. Beltyukov wrote that he enjoyed watching her performances on television, and thanked her with words about how important it is today.

Money from Moscow

Zhdanok's efforts were appreciated. At the end of 2014, Sergei Beltyukov (in his letters he signs as Sergei Krasin) writes to her: "Tatiana Arkadyevna! D. may contact you shortly. G. There was an opportunity to apply for a research grant from St. Petersburg State University. At first glance, the idea looks interesting."

Zhdanok answers: "Sergey, thank you for the kind words, which are always nice to receive. D. G. called me, I hope to meet our mutual friend in Riga. T. Zh."

"D. G." is an employee of the St. Petersburg FSB Dmitry Gladei, with whom Zhdanok has been communicating since the times of the USSR. She stated that it was only her old acquaintance from student times, but in correspondence she communicates with him in "you" and in a business tone, and the "old acquaintance" discusses only working issues with her and, among other things, organizes funding for her.

Zhdanok had been receiving Russian money for many years by that time: in her correspondence you can find, for example, a discussion of a grant for a forum in Brussels in 2008, where Zhdanok spoke from Russian positions on the topic of the Russian-Georgian war. She agreed on the grant with the propagandist and director of European programs of the "Russian World" Alexei Gromyko, the grandson of the famous Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, nicknamed "Mr. No." Gromyko Jr. made a quick career, in 2014 his "correct" position on the Ukrainian issue helped him to get the position first as head of the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and then get into the scientific council under the Security Council of the Russian Federation. (However, after the beginning of the SVO, Gromyko, together with a number of Russian scientists, signed a letter expressing "concern" and calling for a "ceasefire", after which Gromyko was removed from the Security Council.)

Also, judging by the correspondence, Zhdanok regularly received funding from the Russian Fund for Support and Protection of the Rights of Compatriots Living Abroad. Here's how she teaches her friend, a politician from the pro-Kremlin party Vladimir Buzaev, who applied to this fund:

"Vladimir, the form of the letter is completely unacceptable. If I had written applications like this (and no one else wrote them except me and Leni Reichman), I would never have received any funding. It is necessary to make a short letter without any ultimatums and with a real budget (no more than 20 thousand euros). T. Zh."

Assistant from the Kremlin

Moscow helped Zhdanok not only with money, but also with people. The same group of people who oversaw the campaign to spread disinformation about the events in Odessa on May 2 and communicated with Zhdanok through a group email, discusses with her the appointment of a new assistant. Someone named Dmitry (most likely, the same FSB officer Dmitry Gladey) puts Zhdanok before the fact that she will now have a new assistant - Yulia Satirova, a student from Odessa. The strender obediently arranges Satyrov to his apparatus. She worked in the European Parliament until 2019, not only for Zhdanok, but also for two other politicians: Miroslav Mitrofanov, a Latvian parliamentarian and member of the Latvian Russian Union, and Jiří Mashtalka, a communist MEP from the Czech Republic.

Satirova is not the only one for whom Zhdanok found a job in the European Parliament. She also managed to arrange her former colleague Yuri Sokolovsky into the Greens / European Free Alliance parliamentary group. He still works there as an adviser.


Not only in Ukraine did Zhdanok become a useful informant of the Kremlin. Of course, she is particularly active in reporting to the FSB on the situation in Latvia, where she herself conducts active political activities, which she coordinated with Moscow. For example, during organized provocations during the "procession of legionaries", when a group of elderly SS veterans laid flowers at the monument, Zdanok was to present this phenomenon as proof of the popularity of Nazism in Latvia. People dressed in prison robes and with David's stars on their chests stood in the way of the procession, the police began to push them away to avoid a collision, and the vivid picture was subsequently designed to demonstrate the oppression of the "anti-fascists" by the Latvian state.

The FSB not only knew in advance about the provocation, but also warned Zhdanok that a report would be needed: "I'm waiting for the promised clarifications for the article on March 16 - the text of your application, the reaction of the deputies, the consequences." After the event, Zhdanok sends photos accompanied by the following text:

"I'm sending a text and a photo to him. The original short text explaining the photo was sent on March 16 to the deputies of my "green" faction (53 people). The more detailed text sent was sent on March 17 for the same "greens" and other members of the intergroup on minority issues (42 dep.).

The reaction of deputies will be fully tracked next week, as it will be a week of meetings of factions, and now it is a week of commissions. Today, at a meeting of a group of deputies from the "green" faction working in the Civil Liberties Commission (5 deputies), the head of the group, Kathalijne Buitenweig, asked me to talk about how events further developed.

Zhdanok also sent Gladea a statement, which she sent to her colleagues in the European Parliament. In it, the MEP expresses his indignation at "violence used by the police against anti-fascist demonstrators."

It is curious that twenty years later, the Kremlin still continues provocations and disinformation in Europe with the stars of David - however, now not in Latvia, but in France. Hired provocateurs draw David's stars and anti-Semitic graffiti in Paris, after which through the Kremlin network of trolls photos of these actions are distributed online as evidence of the growth of anti-Semitism in France.

The sovereign's eye

In addition to Latvia and Ukraine, Zhdanok is actively interested in Eastern European countries cooperating with the EU within the framework of the Eastern Partnership, and how a MEP in delegations visits these countries or meets with their representatives in Brussels. She reports to the FSB in a disciplined manner about these meetings and their results.

For example, in the summer of 2010, Zhdanok sent Gladea the program of the visit of deputies from potential Eastern Partnership countries to Brussels. Later, she reported which member countries are in favor of (and do not support) the inclusion of Russia's ally Belarus in the project:

"I looked at my records. The positions of the participants are as follows: Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan are firmly for the full participation of Belarus, and Ukraine and Moldova are ready to accept the "compromise" proposals of the European Parliament 5+5 or 10+10. But all of them do not seem to mind starting work without Belarus, and the first meeting of full delegations (60 people from the EP and 10 people from each parliament) should be held in September. T. Zh."

A few months later, she sent a similar report to Gladea from Moldova. And in 2012, Zhdanok went to Azerbaijan. Before such visits, MEPs receive thick folders with an analysis of the economy and policy of the host country, resumes of high-ranking officials, information on support from international funds and briefings on key issues such as the suppression of protest movements. Zhdanok forwarded an almost 70-page report to Gladei. These documents were not confidential, but they were intended only for European Parliament delegations, not for the general public - and especially not for Russian intelligence.

In Vilnius in November 2013, the EU planned to sign cooperation agreements with several Eastern Partnership countries, and Russia increased pressure. The import of wine from Moldova and chocolate from Ukraine was prohibited. Moscow also threatened to stop gas supplies - this was a very serious measure, given the approaching winter. MEPs gathered in Lithuania decided to adopt a resolution condemning the tactics of forceful pressure from Russia. Zhdanok also sent this resolution to her FSB curator.

She prepared both her draft resolution from the Green Party and the text of her speech. In it, she acknowledged that Russia is exerting pressure, but pointed out that the EU allegedly professes double standards: Moldova will no longer be able to export wine to Russia, but the EU does not offer an alternative market. As an example, she cited Latvia, saying that it had joined the EU, but "the marriage was unequal." In fact, Zhdanok changed for Moldova the message that the Kremlin has spread in the Baltic countries for many years: the EU is doing to you unfairly, and if you stay with Russia, your country will be better.

"I'm shocked," said former German MEP Rebecca Harms, who then headed the Zhdanok group in the European Parliament, after learning about these emails. "It becomes clear that she not only had a "different opinion" on issues related to Russia, but was also really an informant. I am very sorry that I did not have the strength to organize the majority to exclude it from the "green" group.

Little helper of the Kremlin

Zhdanok not only informed the FSB about the events, she also gave advice to Russian intelligence on how to intervene more effectively in European political affairs.

In an e-mail dated October 1, 2009, Zhdanok sent Gladeya "an analysis of errors in the work of some structures that affect Russia's image abroad." She pointed out that Russian diplomats abroad were poorly prepared to work with the media and were easily "bypassed" by colleagues from the Baltic States and Georgia, who were "young, dynamic, trained in the West and fluent in foreign languages".

Zhdanok noted that this dynamics was clearly visible during the Estonian episode with "Bronze Soldier" in 2007, when Tallinn moved the Soviet monument of World War II from a busy city intersection to a military cemetery. The transfer was met with riots provoked by the Russian authorities and a cyber attack by hackers from the GRU. Another example given by Zhdanok is related to the Russian-Georgian war of 2008, in which Moscow's diplomatic efforts were not enough to convince the world that Russia is not an aggressor.

In her analysis, Zhdanok also criticized Russian officials who consider foreign trips as tourist adventures, noting that Moscow's envoys too often compensate for the lack of convincing arguments with an "arrogant attitude", which she summarized as follows: "Russia has gas and oil, so you should respect us."

Zhdanok had quite serious ambitions: she tried to lobby for the creation of a whole government agency based on its European Russian Forum (ERF) that would use the Russian diaspora to promote state interests abroad. For many years, the ERF has been the most important event in Brussels. She booked the venue of the forum in the European Parliament building for almost six months and took on the role of the main organizer, and important Russian officials were sitting next to her. Among the founders of the forum were representatives of the Moscow City Hall and the Russian Orthodox Church, and among the sponsors were the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and the Russian World Foundation. The forum, a series of discussions and exhibitions gave Zhdanok a reason to bring Russian politicians and representatives of special services to the European Parliament.

Now, after the investigation that has begun, Zhdanok's European career is waiting for an inglorious end. She will no longer be able to run for the European Parliament and without parliamentary immunity has every reason to be involved in a criminal case. Obviously, expecting such an outcome, Zhdanok recently renovated her house in Valdai.