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National Security News


Is Zuma and MK planning another insurrection in South Africa with the Russian GRU’s support?

Opinion Piece, NSN

Colonel Nikolai Tsybulia, ostensibly the Defence Attaché at the Russian Embassy in South Africa, at first glance appears to be every bit an officer of the Russian Naval Infantry, often called the Russian Marines by Westen military observers, when he fulfills his diplomatic duties in his smart naval dress uniform.

Courtesy Call to Chief of the SA Navy by the newly appointed Defence Attaché of Russia to South Africa, Colonel Nikolai Tsybulia. CREDIT: SA National Defence Force Facebook page

The Russian Naval Infantry is an elite unit in the Russian Armed Forces with a proud military history that dates back to 1705. The Naval Infantry also contains the Russian special forces unit that is the equivalent of the U.S. Navy Seals or the British Special Boat Service (SBS).

But, according to the acclaimed Russian investigative publication “Insider”, Tsybulia, is not just an ordinary Defence Attache but a serving officer of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces- Russian Military Intelligence- or the GRU. “Insider” has a track record of being highly accurate reporting. The magazine gained widespread recognition in 2019 for its investigative work that enabled the identification of the two GRU officers who attempted to assassinate Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, England. “Insider” played a crucial role in the investigation of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. Even the Kremlin recognizes its accurate reporting- in 2021 Insider was labelled a “foreign agent” by the Russian Ministry of Justice and in 2022 it was banned by the Kremlin for “posing a threat to the national security of the Russian Federation”.

“Insider” traced Colonel Tsybulia’s affiliation with Russian Military Intelligence through his wife. His wife’s name appears on the Russian public records as a registered resident of the officers’ dormitory of the Military Diplomatic Academy (MDA) at Bldg. 4, 52 Narodnogo Opolcheniya Street in Moscow. In Soviet times this multi-story building was called the “illegals’ house” – the Russian intelligence term for deep cover intelligence officers- and later it became known as the “wives’s house” because it was used as a registered address for GRU officers’ wives, whose husbands could not be officially registered there as residents for reasons of secrecy.

The officers’ wives residence is located next to the officers’ dormitories near the GRU Military Diplomatic Academy (MDA) building. Since it was built in 1975, it has housed thousands of families of GRU officers who, first on instructions from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) and then from the leadership of the Russian Federation, spied around the world. Most of the tenants studied at the First Faculty of the MDA, which trains illegals and spies operating under diplomatic cover, or at the Second Faculty (agent handling) for subsequent work abroad as military attachés.

The ethos of the GRU is completely distinct from the units of the Russian Armed Forces like the Naval Infantry and its members limited to a small group of officers who are handpicked by the Kremlin to become part of a ruthless organization that deals in treachery, terrorism and assassinations around the world.

Nikolai Tsybulia started his military career in the Russian Naval Infantry in Sevastopol in Crimea where he was spotted by a GRU recruiter. After his recruitment by the GRU and training at the Second Faculty of the MDA, Tsybulia was assigned to the Fourth Directorate of the GRU responsible for operations in Africa. In one of his first postings abroad he was sent under diplomatic cover as a GRU officer to South Africa to begin to apply the tradecraft of identifying agents suitable for recruitment and running. He was subsequently during his clandestine career deployed to Nigeria and Ethiopia in a similar way.

According to “Insider” magazine, the GRU’s Fourth Directorate (Africa) played a critical role in the arrangements for Putin’s Russia-Africa Summit that Jacob Zuma attended in 2023. The sale of Russian weapons to Africa is a major Kremlin objective for the Summit. In Nigeria, Russia made a breakthrough by signing the first framework agreement for the sale of Russian arms to Nigeria in 2021. In Ethiopia, Russia has provided both sides in the civil war with weapons and sold Addis Ababa 2 Sukhoi 27 fighter jets and sophisticated electronic warfare weaponry.

Ethiopia Induct Russian-Made Su-30 Fighter Jets. CREDIT: The Defence Post

Recently, Tsybulia, now one of the most experienced Africa operators in the GRU’s Fourth Directorate, was sent back to South Africa. The question arises for what reason?

Colonel Tsybulia and the GRU’s Fourth Directorate made all the logistical arrangements including flights and accommodation for Jacob Zuma‘s “medical treatment” in Moscow in July 2023 using a white supremacist who calls himself DuRoss Gasperi (and sometimes Hiraoko Gasperi) as a cut out for this clandestine operation.

READ MORE: Zuma’s mystery fixer: The right-wing, white genocide ‘activist’ behind Belarus ventures– Azarrah Karrim, News24

As the “secret hand” in the Russia Africa Summit, the GRU brokered the deal at the highest level that allowed Zuma to return to South Africa to be immediately released from serving his prison sentence, despite a court ruling that he has to return to prison, and to enable Zuma to launch the MK Party in November 2023.

READ MORE: Jacob Zuma, the MK Party, and the Kremlin’s GRU – Andre Pienaar NSN

JCREDIT: Alexander Joe/AFP via Getty Images

DuRoss Gasperi is one of several right-wing extremists who are being run by the GRU worldwide to polarize and destabilize democracies with extreme nationalism and hate speech. The strategic objective of these operations is to find the ethnic and racial fault lines of multi-ethnic democracies and to exploit and exacerbate them for chaos.

READ MORE: Russia is recruiting far-Right extremists to carry out attacks in the UK and Nato countries – Sean Rayment, NSN

Gasperi’s regularly appears as a commentator on extremist media platforms like JellyFish in the US, operated by John and Brendi Wells, which disseminate messages of white supremacy combined with Russian military propaganda.

Gasperi appearing as a commentator on extremist media platform JellyFish

In recent months these extremist networks have been turned to commit acts of violence. As a result the United Kingdom deported Colonel Maxim Elovik, who like Tsybulia, served as a clandestine GRU officer in the Russian embassy in London using the cover of being the Defence Attaché. 

Colonel Maxim Slovak source X

In line with the GRU playbook for chaos, Zuma and the MK Party now reject South Africa’s Constitution and claim without any evidence widespread election fraud. This lie is being repeated over and over by Russian, what many intelligence agencies believe are bots on the Kremlin’s disinformation channels and on official Kremlin news channels like TASS, the Kremlin’s official news service. Zuma is calling up the ghost of Zulu nationalism and combining this with  the threat of terror. In his post election speech Zuma said in a menacing way that “we don’t want to see people dying”.

READ MORE: Jacob Zuma’s MK is not a South African democratic political party, it is a Russian “hybrid warfare” platform – Andre Pienaar, NSN

The MK Party now appears to threaten South Africa’s stability and democracy with a demand for the resignation of President Ramaphosa and threats of fomenting widespread violence if their demands are not met.

As South Africa moves forward to form a new government based on its hard-won Constitution, could the country be in the throes of an attempted coup by Zuma, MK and their sponsors? Only great vigilance and courage from all South Africans can bring the country safely through this near and present danger.