Active Measures

"Активные Мероприятия | Aktivnyye Meropriyatiya: Agent-operational measures aimed at exerting useful influence on aspects of the political life of a target country which are of interest, its foreign policy, the solution of international problems, misleading the adversary, undermining and weakening his positions, the disruption of his hostile plans, and the achievement of other aims."(Mitrokhin, Vasili (2013-01-11). KGB Lexicon: The Soviet Intelligence Officers Handbook (p. 13). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.)

Mayakovsky killed himself in 1930, surprising no one.

The necessary expertise

Published: 2019 January 28

With a little effort I can read this. From a book of poetry by Vladimir Mayakovsky, with design and typography by El Lissitzky. They were Communists. I'm not endorsing that. I find the lines and colors more pleasing than the words. Useless, but interesting. Learning the Cyrillic alphabet has actually been quite helpful, however.

The method

Dissemination is Collection

Published: 2019 January 27

This is also a story about using the dissemination of open source intelligence to generate not-so-open-source intelligence. On 15 January 2019 I posted an article about Manuel Ochsenreiter. The people most likely to be concerned about Manuel are his closest associates. In the network of 24 people/entities I discussed in the article, 10 are in Russia, and 3 in Serbia. The traffic analyzed below is all linked temporally, but may in fact be two (or three) distinct instances of data being shared by linked individuals

The man said make sure the windows are blackened by smoke

Milieux of Manuel Ochsenreiter

Published: 2019 January 15

In February of 2018 arsonists struck a Hungarian community organization in western Ukraine. Meant to exacerbate tensions within Ukraine between Ukrainians and ethnic Hungarians, and between Ukraine and Hungary itself, the attack was quickly discovered to be the work of Polish fascists associated with the Falange organization.

Kremlin just wants their cocaine shipments to be safe

Return to Sender

Published: 2018 November 25

In 2016 the US Drug Enforcement Administration arrested two Russians in Hungary involved in weapons and cocaine trafficking. The two, Vladimir Lyubishin Sr. and Jr., were promptly released on bail, and more recently were allowed to return to Russia rather than being extradited to the USA. The story is reported in detail here: Lord of War in Budapest: The DEA busted two Russian arms dealers and Hungary extradited them to Moscow. Presented here are the now-unsealed Complaint and Indictment.

Kremlin troll says what

@russia_watch: Kremlin active diplomacy troll account

Published: 2018 November 11

I examined @russia_watch's Twitter network, focusing on reciprocal (follower/following) relationships, finding strong ties to centers of Kremlin trolling, most notably London and Zurich; evidence of Kremlin efforts to insinuate themselves in to the ranks of the far-left/tankie element of the UK Labour Party; and signs of overlap between these pro-Kremlin networks and networks of activists more closely aligned with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

IPROG, Delyagin, GRU, and Friends

Published: 2018 October 8

Think tanks, think tanks everywhere (but wherever does the money for them come from (or go to)?). The world of Kremlin-supporting Muscovites involved time and again in active measures is littered with think tanks large and sometimes very small.

Character Witness for Maria Butina: Stanislav Byshok

Published: 2018 September 20

It was good of NPR to try and understand more about Maria Butina by identifying her friends and asking them about her. Unfortunately they don't seem to have made much effort to understand who those friends are, or to identify their likely biases and conflicts of interest.

Active Measures Cadre Seen Through The Lens of Israel Shamir and Maria Butina's Social Network(s)

Published: 2018 September 17

Suffice to say Butina is part of the same active measures cadre as Shamir. Of the 21 friends of Butina that I examined, 12 are readily observable as friends of both Butina and Shamir.

Julian Assange And His Trusted Friend Israel Shamir

Published: 2018 September 17

The Associated Press recently received some thousands of files leaked from within Wikileaks and published a small number of them today.

Maria Butina Social Network Sampler Part 2

Published: 2018 September 15

Before Maria Butina insinuated herself into the ranks of leading American Republicans and their supporting organizations (e.g. NRA), she similarly wove herself into the social networks at the core of Vladimir Putin's regime.

Maria Butina Social Network Sampler Part 1

Published: 2018 September 11

Before Maria Butina insinuated herself into the ranks of leading American Republicans and their supporting organizations (e.g. NRA), she similarly wove herself into the social networks at the core of Vladimir Putin's regime.

Patten Plea Deal Filings

Published: 2018 August 31

W. Samuel Patten, GOP operative, political consultant, lobbyist, and sometime business partner of Russian agent Konstantin Kilimnik, has pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with, among others, Special Counsel Mueller. The Statement of Offense is the most interesting of the documents (and the Conditions of Release is not included, as it should probably have been redacted by the court :(

Michael Cohen Cops a Plea

Published: 2018 August 21

Plea establishes as fact that Cohen acted under the direction of a person presumed to be Donald Trump in paying off women (plural) in support of Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, in the process committing 2 counts of unlawful contributions to a campaign. Trump may not be tried in a Federal court, for that, but those are impeachable offenses. So far, so good.

Dissecting the Trump-Russia Dossier - a Bibliography of Sorts

Published: 2018 July 25

Michael Weiss and Catherine A. Fitzpatrick have published an annotated version of the Steele Dossier, adding various bits of information that have subsequently come to light that bear on the dossier's contents. For my own purposes (namely to make sure that I can identify and add to my own collection any articles I may have missed in the last two years) I have extracted the URLs found within their piece.

USA vs Butina

Published: 2018 July 17

I think what this speaks to is the price Kremlin pays for running intelligence operations outside the official intelligence agencies. In this case Torshin - Putin pal, OC boss, government official - runs his agent Butina in the USA. She reports to him, he reports to Kremlin, Kremlin provides feedback, and so on.

Curses, Foiled Again

Published: 2018 July 11

Below are some recent filings in the case against Paul Manafort brought in the Eastern District of Virginia, Honorable T.S. Ellis III presiding. Long story short, Paulie tried to play games in order to have his case in Washington DC District Court occur first, and his case in Virginia heard second. Why he wanted to reverse the order of the trials is unclear, but he apparently thought it was a good idea.

Documents filed in support of possible revocation of Manafort's release on bail

Published: 2018 June 13

Mr. Manafort, aided by his associate Mr. Kilimnik, attempted to obstruct justice, violating the terms of Manafort's releast to house arrest. Special Counsel Mueller is other-than-pleased. These documents are what have been filed (and unsealed) in support of the request that the judge consider putting Manafort in jail pending trial.

The Michael Cohen SAR That Didn't Disappear

Published: 2018 May 17


Messing With The Enemy - It's an Iterative Process

Published: 2018 May 15

If the first step in counter-trolling is to elicit a response, what we have here is one small mission accomplished. Brava, Ms. Jasmina. Brava.

The Gentlemen from Malta

Published: 2017 December 20

This week saw the publication of a report by the Guardian about Kevin Ellul-Bonici,[1] a longtime associate of Nigel Farage, who has worked for Farage and the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) group at the EU parliament. Ellul-Bonici achieved a degree of notoriety when, in 2014, he and three companions distributed hundreds of copies of a book at the EU parliament as part of a Russian active measure that sought to smear Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė as a one-time KGB asset. An investigation by the EU parliament at the time identified two of Ellul-Bonici's partners as a Russian, a Polish citizen born in Moscow. The fourth was never identified. [2][3] Given Nigel Farage's relationship with Kevin Ellul-Bonici, Farage's involvement in Brexit, mounting evidence of Kremlin involvement in supporting Brexit,[4] Farage's relationship with Donald Trump,[5] and all that we know now regarding Kremlin interference in the US presidential election, this 2015 EU parliament incident appears rather more interesting than it may have seemed at the time. Which brings us to the other gentleman from Malta.

American Intelligence Veterans File Amicus Brief in Lawsuit vs Trump et al

Published: 2017 December 14

La “combinación”: The view from Spain regarding Russia's successful interference in Catalonia

Published: 2017 November 25

La “combinación”, instrumento de la guerra de la información de Rusia en Cataluña / The ‘combination’: an instrument in Russia’s information war in Catalonia, by Mira Milosevich-Juaristi (@MiraMilosevich1), Senior Analyst at the Elcano Royal Institute, is one of the better treatments of the subject of Kremlin subversion targeting Western nations. The description of the blend of methods used by the Russians and their allies in the case of Catalonia provides a good introduction to the topic, but perhaps the most important point made by the author is that the Kremlin has succeeded in Catalonia - as it did in the German elections, the French elections, the US elections, the EU-Ukraine election in Netherlands, and BREXIT - regardless of the immediate outcome on the ground in each of those cases. whois records

Published: 2017 November 24

More about 'BlackMattersUS' faux BLM project exposed by Think Progress

Published: 2017 October 13

There is an interesting story out at Think Progress, regarding (yet another) faux Black Lives Matter online project. BlackMattersUS shares many of the elements of other recently-exposed and Russian-linked "BLM" projects that sought to influence the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election.


This site is an instantiation of what I practice: artisanal intelligence. The focus here is primarily (but not exclusively) on the post- or neo-Soviet active measures as practiced by the Kremlin and their allies, both on- and offline. In general, artisanal intelligence implies a good deal of hand work, an immersion in the work and mindset of the adversary, a process deliberately slowed down and limited in scope. I'm A. Weisburd (hence webradius <- an anagram), and I've been doing this sort of work versus terrorists, organized crime, and hostile intelligence services since at least 2002, applying both lessons learned on the job and in the course of getting a BSc in Information Systems and an MA in Criminology.