"The author of the article, Tom Parfitt from Moscow, reports on a secret plan 'Troy,' which Alexei Muratov sent to the Kremlin in November 2014. The names of the leaders of the pro-Russian riots were clearly stated in the plan, and the spies were already in place. The issue concerned a strategy to prepare the people of Zaporizhia region in eastern Ukraine for a pro-Russian takeover, or, as he [Muratov] put it, a 'liberation from Nazi-fascist occupiers,'" the Voice of America writes.
The report notes that the proposal was part of a wider Kremlin engagement with strategies to destabilize Ukraine. It was revealed in a new report seen by The Times that is based on the leaked emails of a deputy to Vladislav Surkov, the influential Kremlin aide who some call "Putin's Rasputin."
Bob Seely, the Conservative MP who co-authored the report, claims that the leaks "provide a snapshot of covert campaigns and hybrid war, and the price of everything from cyberattacks to fake news, bribes and demos all the way through to overthrowing regional governments."
Muratov was a former MP in the Kursk region, bordering Ukraine, and a former member of the ruling United Russia party that supports President Putin. Earlier in 2014 he had been appointed as a representative in Russia of the separatist "Donetsk People's Republic" in eastern Ukraine.
The report notes that the plan concerned the manipulation of public opinion before an insurrection in Zaporizhia and the wresting of the region from the orbit of the central government in Kyiv. The insurgency would make use of an "existing espionage network" and contact would be established with sympathizers inside the local police and the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).
Under Operation Troy, Muratov was proposing to spend $181,000 on expanding the rebellion further west. The document was allegedly sent to Inal Ardzinba, Surkov's deputy.
Allocated costs included $40,000 to organize protests, $10,000 to maintain a network of agents in the SBU and interior ministry and $49,000 to be spent on vehicles.
Muratov's plan was apparently never set in motion, and it is impossible to know whether it was viewed in Moscow as a serious proposition.
According to the report, the Russian document was part of a third tranche of emails revealed by a network of Ukrainian hackers last November, after two releases in 2016, and studied in depth by Seely. The Kremlin has dismissed material released by the group as fabricated, although some people who sent messages to Surkov that were exposed have said they were genuine.
If genuine, the author writes, the hacked emails demonstrate an extensive attempt to massage politics in Ukraine in favor of the Kremlin, sowing division and promoting autonomy for regions with significant Russian-speaking populations as a means of eroding central government control.
The author of the article draws attention to the fact that such methods were allegedly used in parallel with Moscow's direct military intervention in the Donbas conflict in eastern Ukraine that played a key role in decisive battles against government troops in 2014.
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