Unit 29155 has been operating for at least a decade, focusing on subversion, sabotage and assassination beyond Russia’s borders.
However, after Russia’s humiliation in Salisbury, Ms Shivmanovitch’s application under her own name is the latest evidence that she may have changed tactics and could choose less obvious people to work as spies, sources have said. world intelligence sources.
According to intelligence sources quoted in Le Monde, Ms. Shivmanovitch’s husband was a member of the commando sent in 2016 to Montenegro to organize a coup, which failed.
The French secret service observed him after detecting his presence in the French Alps near the Swiss border along with several other GRU agents who used the area as a “base camp” to carry out covert operations across Europe.
“Between 2014 and 2018, at least 11 GRU officers from unit 29155, including Kulagin, stayed in France near Geneva,” a high-level intelligence source told Le Monde.
French intelligence services have since confirmed Ms Shivmanovitch was with her husband during his stay in the French Alps.
In another sign of Russian espionage activity, agents reportedly sought to buy French military secrets on the Gallic equivalent of Gumtree.
A source from the ministry told Le Monde that it had detected “a dozen approaches to French nationals on sites like leboncoin.fr by agents in charge of the Russian foreign intelligence service SVR file” over the past two years.
Each time, the agents targeted “flexible but high-potential profiles”, including graduates of grandes écoles or young professionals who had placed advertisements offering private maths or French lessons.
Targets, including a young employee who had just started working for a civil-military artificial intelligence company, were offered between 200 and 300 euros in exchange for “notes” on areas of interest.
Such moves led the DGSI, the French MI5, to expel at least one Russian agent.
Others simply received warnings not to do it again. In one instance, the relevant Russian agent reportedly showed up for his “lesson” to find that his young teacher had been replaced by an unamused intelligence official who had informed him that the game was over.