¿Espía ruso o hero ukraniano? La extraña muerte del bankero que frustró la guerra relámpago

WASHINGTON.- Pocos días después de la Russian invasionagents de inteligencia ucranianos dejaron el cuerpo de un hombre con un orificio de bala en la base del cranio en pleno centro de Kiev.

The 45-year-old Ukrainian banker Denys Kiryeyev was executed as a traitor. According to an agent of the Security Service of Ukraine – the country’s internal intelligence agency, known as SBU-, habían killed a Kiriyev por ser un supuesto espía del Kremlin.

Sin embargo, pocos días después de que arrojaran su cuerpo, Kiryyev was buried as a national hero. y junto al primer prime ministro de Ukraina. Según el general Kyrylo Budanov, head of the Ukrainian military intelligence agency, Kiryyev had passed information on his Russian contacts that helped the Ukrainian forces successfully defend the country’s capital last February. “De no haber sido por el Señor Kiryeyev, probably Kiev would have fallen”said the general.

The Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskysigned the papers to posthumously award Kiryyev a medal “for his exceptional contribution to the defense of sovereignty and security of the State”.

Durante años, Rusia invirtió thousands of millions of dollars para infiltarse en los círculos politicos y de inteligenia de Ukraina, para sembrar divisions en las agencias de espionaje ucranianas y plantar una red de agents en caso de que Moscú decidedia apoderarse del país.

According to the moment, Kiryyev parécia pertenecer a uno u otro de los bandos opuestos. He abandoned his career in financial institutions in the West dedicarse a administrar el dinero y los actives de dos hermanos millionarios con estrechos vínculos con politicos ucranianos alignedados con Moscú. Ese trabajo le reportó dinero para comprarse propiedades, una flotilla de automobiles, y pagarse lujosas vacaciones en Grecia y París. Pero también tiñó su reputation entre funcionadores y colleges concerned about interference in Russia and Ukraine.

Kyrylo Budanov, Chief of Defense Intelligence of Ukraine
Kyrylo Budanov, Chief of Defense Intelligence of UkraineABC NEWS

Según el general Budanov, más adelante en su carrera Kiryyev cultivó lazos con los servicios de inteligenia de Occidente, y también con funcionadores militares y govermental del Kremlin. He even accepted on the representative of Kiev in the first high-profile talks with Russia, a high-risk and high-profile task where Kiryyev “disfrutó mucho interpretar el papel de 007”dice uno de sus amigos.

The invasion of February 24 put to the test the determination of Russia and the resistance of Ukraine. Con un pie de cada lado, Kiryyev quedó atrapado en ese fuego cruzado.

On February 23 in the afternoon, Kiryyev approached General Budanov with an intelligence report: el presidente ruso, Vladimir Putin, acababa de dar órdene de invadir a primera hora de la mañana siguiente.

Y Kiryeyev also knew the main target of the attack…

At 8 o’clock in the morning on February 24, Russian helicopters in a fast flight landed troops at the Antonov airport, several kilometers north of Kiev. El Kremlin tenía planado apoderarse del aeropuerto para enviar tropas y tomar por asalto la capital.

Con ese dato que les pasó Kiryyev, Ukraina ganó unas pocas pero preciosas horas de tiempo para desplazar sus tropas y así contrarrestar el asalto ruso, said Budanov. After a fierce battle with the Russians, el aeropuerto fue dañado por las fuerzas invasoras y quedó unutilizable.

Cuando los plans de guerra relámpago de Rusia fracasaron, las dos partes organizaron conversaciones de alto el fuego en Bielorrusa. As Kiriyev knew two members of the Russian delegation, General Budanov asked him to join the delegation. Budanov apostaba a las connexions de Kiryyev para poner en pausa los combates y darle más tiempo a Ukraina para mobilizar sus defenses.

Kiryeyev sabía que era ariesgado asumir un papel tan public en el conflicto y no quería ir: había cultivado relaciones en both lados durante años, y ahora la guerra lo obligaba a declarar dónde tenía puesta su lealtad.

“¡Carajo!”, le dijo a uno de sus custodios. “Si la patria me lo demanda, voy”.

Kiryeyev joined the minister of defense of Ukraine and other officials of the committee when they were at the point of departure from the train station of Kiev, according to an ex-functionary of counterintelligence of the SBU who collaborated with the delegation.

The photos of Kiryyev sitting on the table of negotiations on February 28 surprised a lot of people who knew him, including his wife, who was abroad: his husband didn’t say anything.

“After this appearance, the connection with the special services was uncovered for all,” said General Budanov. “Lamentablemente, la situation en ese momento era crítica y timovio que correr algunos riesgos”.

Kiryyev returned to Belarus and immediately met with Budanov during several hours. El hombre era consciente del peligro que corría, y según su custodio salió de la reunión muy preoccupado.

A few days later, Kiryyev received a visit from a friend in his house in the suburbs, north of Kiev. Lo received con un rifle de caza de gran caliber en la mano: Kiryyev le contó que lo había usado para disparar contra agentes rusos que unas noches antes rondaban su propiedad.

When Russia and Ukraine scheduled a second round of talks for the 3rd of March, General Budanov again convinced Kiryyev to assist.

According to the general, the night before the new negotiations in Belarus, Kiryyev received a call from Oleksandr Poklad – head of counterintelligence of the SBU and the person in charge of capturing intelligence and security officers suspected of working for Russia – who wanted to meet with él. Neither Poklad nor the spokesperson of the SBU wanted to comment on this article.

A la mañana siguiente, Kiryeyev went by car to a train station in Kiev with his personal security team and military intelligence agents who traveled with him to Belarus. Les advirtió a sus guardaespaldas que tal vez lo arrestaran en el camino. “No intervengan”, le dijo a su equipo de seguridad.

The caravan reached the center of Kiev and stopped near the Cathedral of Saint Sophia. There they were intercepted by several vans with agents of the SBU who ordered the military intelligence agents of Kiryyev’s guards to deliver their weapons.. Kiryyev was introduced to a van, which drove away while the security team followed the road.

Unos 90 minutes después, the agents of military intelligence received the coordinates of the place where Kiryyev’s body was found.

La Oficina Estatal de Investigaciones de Ukraina, que maneja este tipo de homicidios, se negó a comentar para esta historia.

Durante los meses siguientes, el gobierno de Kiev fue eliminando a los complices rusos infiltrados en los servicios de seguridad. “No tengo tiempo para occuparme de todos los traidores”, said Zelensky in March. “But todos will have their punishment.”

The president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, attends a press conference with the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, after their meeting in Kiev, Ukraine, on Thursday, January 19, 2023
The president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, attends a press conference with the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, after their meeting in Kiev, Ukraine, on Thursday, January 19, 2023Efrem Lukatsky – AP

In July, Zelensky echó al chief of the SBU and dismissed the process of dozens of generals of the agency for alleged facilitation of the Russian invasion. Ukraine opened more than 650 cases of betrayal involving public officials.

Meanwhile, Kiryyev was buried with military honors in the Baikove cemetery in Kiev, among the tombs of Ukrainian heroes. His widow returned briefly to the city in December. Visitó su tumba tres veces, la última antes de abandonar el país.

Brett Forrest

The Wall Street Journal

(Translation by Jaime Arrambide)

The Wall Street Journal

Conocé The Trust Project

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