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.)

Maria Butina Social Network Sampler Part 1

Published: 2018 September 11

This is one of four five posts dealing with Maria Butina and her social network:

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. Her social ties being a literal open book (at the time of her arrest her Facebook account was open to public view, complete with her list of friends, and it has remained that way), I finally got around to looking at her networks and what relationships she has with people previously observed by me in the context of Kremlin active measures over the past four years. Out of 4,000+ of Butina's friends on Facebook, at least 2,000 have at least one friend known to be involved in active measures or otherwise tied to Kremlin. She's very well connected.

Butina in 2012 at a table headed by Vladimir Zhirinovskiy

For this review I selected a sample of friends of Butina from a range of backgrounds and with varying degrees of connection to other people of interest. All the data predates her arrest, and most of it predates the 2016 US election. I avoided natural born Americans in order to not unduly upset the FBI's Washington Field Office, who are likely to be investigating Butina's American friends. These friends of Butina are ranked by connectedness, which in this case represents the degree to which they are themselves friends with other members of Putin's adhocracy. Maximum score is a 10, and anything above a 2 is likely significant even when the significances is not readily apparent.

Biryukov, Fyedor

A leader of the Rodina Party (currently head of the Information and Political Department, and a member of the politburo), Biryukov also operates an NGO Институт Свободы (Institute of Freedom). Ties to Rodina are a common biographical feature of people involved in Kremlin active measures campaigns, both inside and outside Russia. Biryukov in particular has been involved in cementing ties between Rodina - and by extension, the Kremlin - and pro-Moscow political parties in the West.

Biryukov (circled) with some of his favorite Europeans, photo uploaded in 2017

Olevich, Victor

Lead Expert at the Center for Policy Relevance a/k/a the Actual Policy Center ( whose Director is Andrey Tatarinov. Olevich claims to have attended high school in Harrisburg PA, and college at Temple University. Olevich currently lives is Moscow.

Olevich making an appearance on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' PressTV network

Rodionov, Dmitry AKA Ogneev

Director of the Center for Geopolitical Studies at the Institute for Innovative Development (Институт Инновационного Развития (ИИР)).

Rodionov/Ogneev as he presented himself some years ago on a since-deleted account

Knyrik, Konstantin

GRU asset, follower of Dugin. Led a unit of little green men into Crimea in 2014. Operates alt-news organization News Front.

Like a good little green man, Knyrik deleted his Facebook in favor of FSB's vKontakt

Shurygin, Vladislav

Military correspondent dismissed from the Army in 1993 following involvement in the Constitutional Crisis. Closely associated with the Zavtra publication and a permanent member of the Izborsky Club. Worked under journalistic cover in Karabakh, South Ossetia, Transnistria, Abkhazia, Tajikistan, Serbia, Chechnya, Iraq. Fought in Serbia and Transnistria. Editor in Chief of alt-media outlet Zhournaliskaya Pravda. Heavily involved in anti-Maidan protest activities in 2014 and subsequent Kremlin propaganda campaigns in Europe and the USA.

Shurygin (right) with a doctor friend (who will likely not be able to save him from complications due to morbid obesity).

Dervenev, Vladimir

Pilgrimage Department of Russian Orthodox Church, also does business as DEKO Ltd. Travel Co.

Should your next GRU-inspired religious pilgrimage require a travel agent, Dervenev is your man (but not on Facebook anymore - try Saint Petersburg).

Klyushin, Artem

Oligarch close to Putin who claims to have "put Trump in the White House." Klyushin and Trump met in Moscow in 2013.

Kochetkov, Alexey

Political scientist, propagandist, subversive. Arrested for participation in the Constitutional Crisis in 1993 and released in the subsequent amnesty (see also Shurygin, Vladislav). In 2004 he was involved in subversive activities in Ukraine, in 2005 he was arrested by the security services in Moldova, and in 2008 he was involved in the invasion of Georgia. Does business as "International Monitoring Organization CIS-EMO" and "Public Diplomacy" ( and respectively).

Kochetkov is the guy in the center.

Lozansky, Edward

President/Founder of the American University in Moscow. Founder of U.S.-Russia Forum. Professor at Moscow State.

Lozansky outside Russia House, Washington DC.

Weak Ties or Strong?

Of course this wouldn't be a network if the only ties between these guys was Maria Butina. As you can see, they pretty much all know each other, in addition to knowing her.


Finally, the significance of anything I've presented here is dependent on the interests and perspective of the observer (that's you). But allow me to present one example of what these ties might mean, or how they might be of some significance. It is safe, in the absence of other/additional information, to assume these people are all loosely tied to one another. They are acquaintances. They may not even all have met each other IRL, but most of them probably have, at least in passing. Let's assume that for whatever reason Olevich suddenly needs to get in touch with Shurygin. They don't appear to know each other, and perhaps Olevich doesn't feel like cold calling Shurygin. No worries, he has four people he can turn to for an introduction. Even if Butina is still in jail in the US, and Biryukov is, say, visiting associates in Belgrade, Olevich still has Rodionov and Kochetkov to turn to. There is nothing mysterious about this - it's how stuff happens in life. We don't all know in advance all the people we might want or need to know to get something done. The difference, or significance here, is that these guys all have this way of getting up to stuff that is a problem for others.

See also, Part 2