This week, the Russian State Duma approved the first draft of a bill that would tighten penalties for leaking or otherwise illegally using personal data. These measures are primarily aimed at investigative journalists, who have identified multiple Russian special services personnel with the help of leaked databases. However, the restrictions are unlikely to have much impact, as the carelessness of special service officers themselves often enough does the trick. One prominent example involves pizza. Officially, employees of Russia’s FSB and GRU are prohibited from ordering delivery to their workplaces. Sometimes though, not even the officer corps in the Kremlin’s hybrid war against Western hegemony and influence can resist the temptation of having a little slice of Italy brought right to their door. How does The Insider know? Simple. One database of pizza delivery service customers — something that is readily obtainable by any user of Telegram bots — demonstrates just how easy it can be to find the personal data of undercover Russian spies.
Pepperoni for the SVR
Pizza for FSB Covert Ops Specialists
Shrimp Pizza for GRU
Pepperoni for the SVR
There are several residential buildings in Moscow belonging to the SVR, Russia’s foreign intelligence service. Among them is the gray high-rise located at 17 Vilnyusskaya Street, which was built in 2002 and is now home to 660 people. 93% of the building’s apartments have been assigned to the foreign intelligence service, with the remaining 7% going to the Department of Municipal Housing of Moscow. In January 2011, the building made headlines when Colonel Gennady Ambarnov, an officer from the central apparatus of the SVR, mysteriously fell from a 15th floor balcony.
SVR building on Vilnyusskaya Street in Moscow
A Pizza Delivery database contains the personal information of 65 customers living at the 17 Vilnyusskaya SVR building, and the list includes several active servicemen. Among them is Federal Customs Service General Andrei Lyashkevich, who gave the courier two of his phone numbers and the access code to the entrance. Lyashkevich worked under the cover of a counselor to the Russian Ambassador in Delhi and supervised local foreign intelligence assets. In 2012, Lyashkevich deleted all of his social media accounts, but copies of them persisted in other databases of Moscow residents that have been “leaked” online. On one of the deleted accounts, Lyashkevich’s online friends included other real life Russian spies, including, among others: Vladimir Khavroshin, who previously worked undercover as a diplomat in Islamabad and Ottawa; Konstantin Zlygostaev, trade representative of the Russian Federation in Uzbekistan; and Maxim Ternovsky, Consul General in Kolkata.
After his stint in India, Lyashkevich served in the central apparatus of the SVR. Later, as an officer of the active reserve, he was seconded to the customs service, where he assumed the position of the first deputy chief of the Main Directorate for Combating Smuggling. This arrangement, in which an SVR officer is seconded to the Customs Service, ensures that foreign intelligence head Sergey Naryshkin can be kept informed of developments in the other branch. General Lyashkevich has been an interview subject of Kremlin-loyal media and has also been compelled to answer in court in connection with legal proceedings that concern illicit acts committed by officers of the Federal Customs Service.
Two floors below Lyashkevich in the 17 Vilnyusskaya building resides Oleg Shugaley of the SVR's Scientific and Technical Intelligence Directorate. Introducing himself as Vasily to the pizza delivery courier, Shugaley also shared the access code to the building’s street level entrance, along with his home phone number.
Shugaley once registered as an individual entrepreneur in Rostov-on-Don under the company name Kessler Techno Import, which was chartered with 1 ruble in capital. In 2001, he was sent to Israel to work at the local branch of Britannica Knowledge Systems (BKS). The company “provides a comprehensive integrated solution for training and readiness management for defense, security forces, civil aviation, and corporate training management.” In 2005, Shugaley worked in Tel Aviv as a regional manager at the International Aviation Group, collaborating with American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Bangkok Airways, and Qantas Airways. Later, he became a representative in Russia for the Canadian company CAE, which manufactures aviation and aerospace devices and components. In 2011, Shugaley assumed the position of the representative of the British Aviation Academy in Russia, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and the Baltic states. In this role, he visited the Russian city Ulyanovsk and signed a memorandum of understanding between the Academy and the Ulyanovsk Civil Aviation Institute to open a training center for Boeing-737 pilots. As The Insider discovered, Shugaley obtained Israeli citizenship, and his wife Nadezhda resides in Israel as well.
Shugaley’s LinkedIn profile indicates that the pizza customer living two floors below SVR General Lyashkevich at Vilnyusskaya 17 currently works as a regional manager for CAE, shuttling between Moscow and Madrid. Judging from his profile, Shugaley has cultivated numerous connections in the aviation industry, engaging with professionals from the USA, Europe, Asia, and Israel. For instance, just two months before this article was published, Shugaley congratulated Gideon Taler, the founder and president of TAL Aviation Group, on receiving the “Tourism Hero” award. The Insider reached out to a number of Shugaley's acquaintances, inquiring whether they were aware of his double life, but no one responded.
Among other pizza customers in the 17 Vilnyusskaya building are 12 former SVR spies who worked in France, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Burma. Interestingly, some still go to great lengths to remain discreet. For example, an 8th floor resident who wished to remain anonymous entered the string of gibberish “рноувыепквксаргаву7неа” — in English, “rnouvyepkvksargavu7nea” — into the “customer’s name” box when placing an order for a pizza with ham, smoked chicken, and sausages. However, after cross-referencing the telephone number listed by “rnouvyepkvksargavu7nea” against a publicly available traffic police database, The Insider determined that the owner of the 8th-floor apartment is Sergey Pavlovich Butenko, a “Ministry of Foreign Affairs” employee.
No pizza with mushrooms and capers has been delivered to apartment No. 45 for several years now. The last such order was dated July 8, 2017, four days before the customer suddenly passed away. That customer was the legendary SVR Colonel Sergey Rastorguev, who authored more than one hundred research papers on information technology, programming, cryptography, antivirus protection, information warfare, avatarization, and vitalization. The methodological guides he wrote are still used in the academies tasked with training SVR and FSB officers, along with “diplomats” from the GRU.
Of course, 17 Vilnyusskaya is not the only SVR building in Moscow where the officer corps in the Kremlin’s hybrid war against Western hegemony and influence order little slices of Italy delivered right to their door. In building No. 5 of an apartment complex located at 6 Academician Anokhin Street, home to several SVR Academy instructors, 22 pizza lovers reside. At 91 Profsoyuznaya Street, where a majority of the intelligence service’s generals live, there are 23. (Among them is the former chief personnel officer of the KGB's First Chief Directorate, Anatoly Korendyasev, who orchestrated the placement of “undercover” officer Vladimir Putin at Leningrad State University after the future Russian dictator returned from his posting in East Germany in 1989.) The “Resident's House” on Goncharnaya Street, recently exposed by The Insider, was home to five individuals ordering pizza. While it is crucial to emphasize that not every resident living at these addresses is a spy — as government-assigned apartments can be rented out, sold, or passed along to family members — The Insider's investigation nevertheless revealed that a significant proportion of these “pizza enthusiasts” really are current or former special service officers.
Pizza for FSB Covert Ops Specialists
Since 2002, FSB officers have been prohibited from ordering goods directly to their place of service. As a result, the database on pizza deliveries does not contain the addresses of the organization’s more famous offices — neither the Lubyanka Building in central Moscow nor the ”Sechin Special Forces” 6th Service headquarters at 12 Kolpachny Lane features on the list. However, some officers do occasionally violate the official regulations. At 12 Vernadsky Prospekt, a high-rise tower that is home to the FSB’s National Antiterrorism Center along with numerous secretive entities disguised as closed research institutes, The Insider found five security officers guilty of pepperoni cravings. Among them were Maxim Suvorov, an officer from the FSB’s “Vympel” special forces unit, and “Vityaz” special forces operative Alexander Siromakha, both of whom left their phone numbers.
Secret high rise building on Vernadsky Prospekt
Still, it was the instructors and students of the FSB Academy at 70 Michurinsky Prospekt who featured most prominently in the database. A total of 59 pizza enthusiasts were identified from this institution. One of them, Mikhail Stepanov, is a member of the counterintelligence faculty, where he teaches courses on the essentials of covert operations. Interestingly, Stepanov has a penchant for more than just pizza, having also been identified as a frequent customer at the “Krasnoe i Beloe” — Red & White — liquor store. Other notable pizza lovers included: Sergey Dudin, an instructor specializing in parachute jumping; Arthur Boronin, a student currently serving in the FSB Directorate for North Ossetia and actively engaged in various counterterrorism committees; and Pyotr Klyuev, also a student, who is affiliated with the FSB department overseeing the Eastern District of the capital.
The academy students not only delve into the basics of counterintelligence and conspiracy, but also kindly leave their phone numbers and names in public announcements. For instance, Ivan Trofimov, who orders shrimp pizza, advertised a BMW for sale. Roman, a tuna pizza enthusiast, sold an Acura MDX. Artem, a fan of pepperoni, offered a Suzuki boat motor for sale. And Sergey, who orders pizza with shrimp, corn, and olives, posted an advertisement for a plot of land in the Perm Krai.
Shrimp Pizza for GRU
The GRU, Russia’s military intelligence arm, also imposes strict restrictions on food delivery to the workplace. However, even here, there are examples of egregious violations. The secret 18th Central Scientific Research Institute (unit 11135), located on Svobodny Prospekt, is part of the GRU's radio reconnaissance structure and is involved in satellite communication encryption. Residents of nearby buildings complain that they experience disruptions in mobile communication due to the institute.
The Insider was able to identify a total of 34 engineering officers at the Svobodny Prospekt location. Mostly, officers from the institute order pizza directly from their offices using service phones — but not all of them are even that careful. For instance, the mobile phone number of Lieutenant Colonel Alexey Yanchevsky turned up in the pizza delivery database. Yanchevsky, who graduated from the Military Academy of the Strategic Missile Forces named after Peter the Great and now leads a classified research team at the institute, enjoys both the shrimp and the spicy sausage varieties.
Apart from the 18th Central Scientific Research Institute, pizza orders also originated from the GRU residential complex on Grizodubova Street. “Exposed” individuals from that location include: Egor Yukhtanov, who presents himself as an independent analyst in oil markets; Vyacheslav Vorobyov, and “expert” and an officer from the GRU headquarters on 76b Khoroshevskoye Shosse; Svetlana Pastushenko, who formerly served in space reconnaissance for military unit 12556 (Solnechnogorsk-7); and Egor Vissing, a graduate of the Moscow Aviation Technology Institute. Vissing is fond of airsoft, and he is a member of the ASG “Vostok” club. During field exercises, club members study the tactics of the US Special Forces and learn to properly launch grenades at moving targets.
Enthusiasts of Italian cuisine can also be found among employees of the Federal Protective Service (FSO) at their office on Novgorodskaya Street, at the main office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs on Zhitnaya Street, and at the Presidential Administration on Staraya Square. However, since officials from the Presidential Administration are prohibited from ordering food to the workplace, couriers are instructed to deliver their pizzas to a monument honoring the heroes of the 19th Century Battle of Plevna, located in a park across the street from the office.