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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Russia Update: September 21, 2016

Publication: Russia Update
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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
ISIS Releases Video Allegedly of Russian FSB Agent Calling for Help

Yesterday, September 20, Furat Media, an ISIS affiliate, released a video plea allegedly of a captured agent of the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia's domestic intelligence agency, Novaya Gazeta reported, citing SITE.

 A copy of the appeal was uploaded to YouTube by a user.

Обращение офицера ФСБ РФ, плененного Исламским Государством, к президенту и народу России

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Sep 21, 2016 10:01 (GMT)

The video has a dramatic sound track, and opens with a thudding heart beat, and the typed words, "Appeal from an officers of the FSB of the Russian Federation, a prisoner of the Islamic State, to the president and people of Russia."

Petrenko is wearing a black shirt and cap, and the label KAFIR or "Infidel" in Russia has been stuck to his shirt.

The following is a translation by The Interpreter of his statement in Russian:

My name is Yevgeny Dmitriyevich Petrenko. I am a citizen of the Russian Federation. I was born March 8, 1981. My last place of residential registration was No. 14 Pionerov Street, Apt. 20 in the city of Tsaritsyn, Moscow Region. I am a non-staff agent of the 2nd Operations Department of the FSB for the city of Moscow, with the rank of captain. While performing my latest assignment, I was arrested by the caliphate's security service.

And today I would like to appeal to the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, to a man, who gave an oath on the Constitution, in faith, to protect the citizens of Russia, no matter where they are. I would also like to appeal to the people of Russia, to the mothers and fathers. You have all heard of the Islamic State. And you understand the entire seriousness of the situation in which I am in. And you know that fate which awaits me in the event that you display indifference to my fate. You have a real opportunity to help me. I urge you, Russia, people, and even directly my bosses at the 2nd Operations Department of the FSB, to do everything for my release. 

I am conscientiously serving the interests of Russia and the people. And I perform the assignments given me despite the difficulty and dangers including on the territory of the North Caucasus

The video breaks off abruptly there after 2:26 minutes.

There are a number of features of this video that differ from past ISIS videos of captured Russians.

Meduza reported that the use of the "KEFIR" badge was a new feature and had not been seen before. They also noted that usually, there is one or more ISIS fighter in the video; this one features only the prisoner, although we note that at 0:20 and 0:25, a figure in a white robe passes in front of the camera. 

An odd feature of Petrenko's statement is that there is no city of Tsaritsyn in modern Russia, said Meduza.

We note that Tsaritsyn, which means "Tsar's City" was the ancient name for Volgograd, but Volgograd has no "Pionerov Street" or "Pioneers' Street". In Moscow, there is a Tsaritsyno Park, a museum in the former residence of the tsar's sister, but that is not an area with housing. There's also a Tsaritsyno District, in the Southern Administrative Region of Moscow, but Petrenko distinctly says "city of Tsaritsyn," not district, so it's not clear if that's what he means.

So the address may be made up, and for that matter, other biographical information may be fabricated -- his birthday, March 8, is the date Russia has traditionally celebrated Women's Day, and even his last name, Petrenko, which is a very common Russian name. Petrenko speaks with a slight accent in Russian which indicates he may be from the Caucasus; at the end of his statement, he refers to performing assignments in the North Caucasus.

The Russian government has not confirmed the video or the capture of an FSB agent.

ISIS recently released videos calling for jihad in Russia, then took responsibility for an attack on police searching an apartment in Dagestan in which 2 policemen were killed, 17 wounded and 2 militants were killed, and another attack on a traffic police post near Moscow which culminated in a shootout in which two Chechen assailants were shot dead and 1 policeman was wounded.

ISIS has taken responsibility for other attacks as well, and last December released a video purporting to show the execution of a Russian spy from Chechnya. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov confirmed that a Russian citizen from Chechnya had been captured.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick