All human activities across all societies no matter how politically arranged operate inside some sort of a framework of consensually agreed parameters. These parameters may be conventions, rules and even codified laws. Without them, building even the most simple society would be impossible since they enable the second most powerful feature of human beings – co-operation.

If you flout these rules, you will gradually be excluded from these activities and in some cases even punished but the biggest punishment is in losing the undoubted benefits of being a part of a group of co-operating individuals who all have different skills, talents or trades to contribute to the group. That co-operation is the force multiplier of any group. By breaking the rules, you become a man alone and such men in reality never prosper in the long term.

The rules are invariably functionally appropriate to the activity the society or group pursues. Without them, the group could not exist. For instance, in the context of organised crime, gangsters are free to kill each other but never each other’s uninvolved family members. I recall a scene in the Godfather film where one gang is drawing up a kill list against the Corleone family. The name Michael Corleone, who is not involved in the family business, is mentioned. The person drawing up the list is immediately reminded – “he’s a civilian, you can’t touch him”. You can spend all your time doing business or protecting your family – but you can’t do both.

In that same milieu, any gangster harming a cop’s family will not only have every cop in the city after him, but every gangster will be working on handing you over to them as well. You break that rule, the gloves come off and nothing goes back to normal until the situation has been resolved. Cops who know what they’re doing operate a reciprocal policy when it comes to gangster’s families – they’re either in the game or they’re civilians.

The intelligence services of opposing countries operate a similar rule though there are some subtleties involved. For instance, if you’re an intelligence officer running a string of locally recruited assets in someone else’s country, you are liable to be arrested. Depending on whether you’re operating as a resident illegal or under diplomatic cover, you may be tried and imprisoned.

After a few years of high security jail, you’ll be swapped for one of their men. Local assets they’ve recruited are treated more harshly since they’re not opposition intelligence officers but are viewed more as traitors. If they’re smart enough to detect your activities and identify you, then it should be no problem in quietly picking you up, whether you’re illegal or not. Just gunning you down like a dog in the street will definitely provoke some sort of reprisal action.

The reality is most capable counterintelligence services have a fair idea of the activities of foreign intelligence officers at work in their country and much prefer to monitor them. That way they find out how money is funneled to the network, how stolen information is sent abroad, any new faces in town and to feed them the occasional nugget of iron pyrates misinformation.

Back in the day when the FBI actually did counterintelligence work and prevented things like 9/11 happening before mutating into America’s secret police, they actually let a KGB network run for nearly ten years before rolling it up.

About a month ago, a Russian journalist called Darya Dugina was assassinated in Moscow by Natalya Vovk, a member of the Ukrainian secret service who also has links to the Azov neo-Nazis there. As with most mainstream Russian journalists, she was nationalist, pro-Putin and anti-Western, sentiments which are widely shared. If she’d one claim to fame it was that she was the daughter of the political commentator Aleksandr Dugin, who was noted for his anti-Westernism and advocacy of a Eurasia-focused Russia.

He’s since been represented by the Western propaganda as the mastermind behind Putin’s activities in the Ukraine but this is patent nonsense. Russia is knee-deep in political theoreticians like him who are roundly ignored by the Kremlin and especially Putin who has absolutely no time for political talkshops who can endlessly debate about how many Ukrainians can dance on a pin head.

There are two things of note about this killing. The first is the victim was a civilian and the second is that within three days of her murder, the Russian intelligence service, in the shape of the FSB, took the unusual step of issuing a detailed account of what happened. Vovk had driven across the Donbass Basin in a car with Donbass plates using her 12-yo daughter in the front seat as cover. On getting into Russia, she had changed her plates to Russian ones and driven to Moscow and Dugina’s apartment complex where she surveilled her target.

From those basic details a narrative was spun. The true target was supposed to have been her father whom she was supposedly driving home from the rally. The car bomb was of the simple timer variety and just blew up killing only the daughter and not her father as well. He’d decided to stay on at the rally for some reason.

Two weeks back, the FSB issued an update on how the assassination had been done. There was another Ukrainian operative called Bogdan Tsiganenko involved in the operation. His job appears to have been to provide logistical support and expertise to the lead assassin. He apparently had false number plates, assembled the not so simple IED device before making good his escaped from Russia into Estonia yet again. Estonia has definitely put itself into the punishment corner with Russia. It seems obvious to me the Russians were already watching Tsiganenko, which is how they got onto Vovk so quickly.

The latest version of the assassination has Vovk observing father and daughter and as the rally ran down, following the unaccompanied latter at some distance on the motorway. The bomb was not of the simple timer variety but a command controlled device. At some point, she detonated the bomb remotely, killing the daughter before also making her escape to Estonia.

In the rough and tumble times of the intelligence business – which are a lot more infrequent than Hollywood would lead you to expect – the Russians are used to having the occasional casualty, but never a civilian. Again, on the rare occasion that someone makes that mistake, the FSB, like their immediate sire the KGB, will go out of their way to make a suitably gruesome example nobody is going to forget in a hurry. There are many instances of such an example being made but I wrote of one a few years back that happened in the Lebanon in the bad old days. The highlights follow.

“At the height of the civil war in the Lebanon, four junior clerks from the Russian embassy in Beirut were kidnapped by Hezbollah. One of them was murdered to prove they meant business and the corpse left for the Russians to find. In response, the KGB kidnapped a nephew of one of the higher up leaders of Hezbollah.

They cut off his balls and had them delivered, together with an exhaustive list of all the names of the extended family members of the whole Hezbollah leadership. On a regular timeline, they cut off more pieces of him, and sent them back to other families as well. Within days, the three clerks were released unhurt and the KGB returned what was left of the body.

That happened in 1983. In the three decades since, no terrorist group has ever come anywhere near Russian embassy staff.”

I haven’t heard of any retaliatory action taken and in the light of the trailing update from the FSB about who exactly was involved in the assassination, my feeling is they’re taking their time and working their way up the responsibility chain of who ordered and who authorised the operation. As in Beirut, they’re after who specifically was behind it. What you can bet the house on is that something suitably biblical is heading towards the Ukrainian foreign security service, elements within its Estonian equivalent and the CIA who seem to be in charge of Ukrainian intelligence.

The Russians don’t forgive, they don’t forget.


Related articles by Pointman:


The FBI are Joe Biden’s personal Gestapo.


Remind me again, which country’s economy was sanctions going to devastate?

The Ukraine war – the military realities.

All articles about the Ukraine situation

Click for a list of other articles.

8 Responses to “Rules.”
  1. Richard Ilfeld says:

    The Biden Secret Police have destroyed the lives of about 900 civilians around prosecuting the Jan 6 Reichstag fire & their political theatre. Will your theory hold if the other side ever regains power?


  2. nzpete54 says:

    I was appalled by the murder of Darya. Your article helps a lot in making sense of it and what the (IMHO justified) outcome may be.


  3. another ian says:

    Hi Pointy

    O/t but FYI

    Victor Davis Hanson

    “The Old South shall rise again”

    Via Small Dead Animals


  4. another ian says:

    Hi Pointy


    “Russia Mobilizes – What does it mean?”


  5. Pointman says:

    US spies believe Ukraine killed Darya Dugina – NYT

    CIA washing their hands or running interference to protect Ukraine culprits from the FSB blowback of an ill-conceived operation?



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