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Russian Media Reports on Fake FSB Claims

An FSB officer arrests a suspected member of the Islamic State group in Russia.


State-owned media outlet

Representatives of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) called the information from Russia’s FSB on the Ukrainian agency’s cooperation with the international terrorist organization ‘Islamic State’ … ‘another fake.’”

The TASS story is true: there is no evidence that either Ukraine’s SBU or Islamic State were involved.

On Monday, September 10, personnel of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) in the city of Smolensk detained a Dagestani who was allegedly plotting to kill a former official of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic,” a puppet state set up by Russia in eastern Ukraine. FSB officials claimed the man told them he had been working with Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU), the far-right group Right Sector (Pravy Sektor) and the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group.

Ukraine’s SBU denied the claims: TASS quoted Ukrainian officials who said they were “too funny to comment on.” This is not the first time Russian authorities or their allies in Ukraine have accused the Kyiv government of working with IS.

Pro-Russian separatist soldiers stand next to a vehicle as they close off a road in Donetsk
Pro-Russian separatist soldiers stand next to a vehicle as they close off a road in Donetsk

In November 2015, Russian state media claimed that IS volunteers were fighting in the ranks of the Right Sector volunteer militia (which at the time was no longer legally recognized by Ukrainian authorities), and that these fighters would get Ukrainian citizenship for their service.

In 2017, pro-Russian websites spread claims that radical Islamists were fighting in the ranks of Ukraine’s Azov regiment, which was originally formed by mostly far-right activists in 2014. Photographs showing one of these fighters wearing an IS flag were allegedly taken in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, which is on the government-controlled side of the front line. However, an investigation found that the alleged “IS base” was in fact a former art center in Donetsk, well within Russian-occupied territory. Also, the Azov regiment has not been deployed to the front for several years, and the Azov soldier in the photographs was wearing the unit’s old insignia, used before the unit was integrated into the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

And there are those who might find it hard to believe that a terrorist group known for its extreme Islamic sectarianism would team up with far-right Christians in Europe. The FSB provided no explanation to explain how that might happen.