The Hesitant Spy

Artem Zinchenko was a GRU officer arrested by the Estonian Security Service (KAPO) in January 2017. He was sentenced to five years in prison. He had been living under cover as a businessman running a company named Dana Investments (after his wife). The company designed and sold baby equipment. In February 2018, Zinchenko was traded back to Estonia for an alleged KAPO agent named Raivo Susi. Susi was an Estonian buisnessman working in the aviation sector who had been arrested in Moscow in February 2016 before being sentenced to twelve years in prison for spying.

But it seems that Zinchenko was not very happy with going back home to Mother Russia. He disappeared in Russia several weeks ago and has now turned up back in Estonia again. Alexander Toots, head of KAPO, laughed during a press briefing as he said: “They have absolutely no idea where he is. You can be the ones to tell them!”

So, why did Zinchenko go back after the GRU went to so much trouble to rescue him? All the indications are that he was always a reluctant GRU recruit. He did not have a military career and seems to have been picked largely because he had a family connection to Estonia. His grandfather, who served in the Soviet army in the Second World War, retired to Estonia in 1966 when the country was still part of the Soviet empire. Zinchenko used to visit his grandfather regularly and knew the country well. Now it seems, that Estonia was where his heart was all along – at least compared to the regime of Vladimir Putin.

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