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New CIA video appeals to Russians disillusioned with Moscow elite

The video's narrator contemplates his 35th birthday, the legacy of his father, who served as a Russian paratrooper, and whether he has “the courage to stand against this betrayal.”
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Police officers block access to Red Square in Moscow in 2022. Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP via Getty Images file

The CIA released another video Monday appealing to Russians disillusioned with the country’s leaders, offering them a way to pass secrets to the American spy agency.

Titled “Why I contacted CIA: the motherland,” the Russian-language video, posted on Telegram and other social media platforms, attempts to connect with Russians’ sense of patriotism and the disparity between soldiers’ making sacrifices on the battlefield and the comfortable lives of the country’s elites.

The CIA posted two similar videos last year on social media.

“We are seeing more outreach from Russians as a result of these videos,” a CIA spokesperson said. “If it weren’t working, we wouldn’t be on video number three.”

The videos launched last year attracted 2.1 million views, the spokesperson said.

CIA Director William Burns has described the turmoil caused by Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 as “a once-in-a-generation opportunity” for the agency to recruit Russian spies.

The latest highly produced video, accompanied by stirring music, features an unnamed narrator contemplating his 35th birthday, the legacy of his father, who served as a Russian paratrooper, and whether he has “the courage to stand against this betrayal.”

“My father was a practical man, believed in Russia. He talked of cosmonauts and scientific achievements that the whole world admired,” the narrator says in the three-minute video.

The narrator goes on to say he joined the military’s intelligence service, the GRU, to serve his country. “But I quickly realized that the real enemy lies within,” he says.

“Our leaders sell out the country for palaces and yachts while our soldiers chew rotten potatoes and fire ancient weapons,” he says. “Our people are forced to give bribes just to find a job. But the elites in incredibly expensive watches while away the time as the corruption and nepotism eat my country alive from the inside.”

At the end of the video, the narrator decides he will honor his father’s example and build a future for his son, contacting the CIA secretly on his mobile phone. “My desire is to save Russia. I will be the spark of truth for my son’s sake,” he says.

The video comes amid a stalemate in the war in Ukraine, with both sides unable to achieve a major breakthrough in the fighting over the past year and with weakening political support in Congress to continue U.S. military aid to Ukraine.