On April 15th the US dropped a load of sanctions on Russia for election interference, and hacking, and generally being Russia. There is a lot of good info to unpack from the sanctions, but for now let’s look at the way Russia’s foreign intelligence service, the SVR, has responded to being called Cozy Bear. (Hint: They don’t like it)
The collection of statements from the US and NATO is here: https://grugq.tumblr.com/post/648536288464683009/us-sanctions-russia-for-cyber-roundup
Here is the original statement from the SVR:
To understand what they’re saying you should know the scene from the movie they’re talking about. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kidnapping,_Caucasian_Style Which is available on YouTube (and worth a watch, it’s funny). Watch from 13:20 to see the scene that the SVR is referencing.
An Old Comedy, the SVR
The scene the SVR quotes is when the police have arrested the protagonist for a drunken escapade.
The protagonist is a research student in the Caucuses collecting old customs and toasts (the phrases said before drinking.) The villagers made him drink for every toast they tell him, and he gets blackout drunk. We cut to him, hung over and recovering in a police station. The cop is reading the complainr.
Cop: ..he disrupted the marriage ceremony. And then, on the ruins of the chapel…
Protagonist: Did I ruin the chapel?
Cop: No, that was before you. In the 14th century.
They’re saying that US’ claims about the cyber attacks are like the statement from the cop about the ruined chapel — completely unrelated.
After dismissing the entire release from the US Intelligence Community (IC) by comparing it to a joke from a 1967 Soviet comedy, things get real. The SVR is very incensed that the US IC is calling them names.
Let’s just say that reading nonsense is not very interesting: “Today, the United States officially declares that the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), also known as ART 29, Cozy Bear and The Dukes is the culprit in a large-scale espionage campaign … The US intelligence community fully trusts its assessment regarding the SVR, ”the release says. And then again, a quote from the film classics: “You have no right! The elder didn’t say that!”
For an intelligence agency, not a very professional way of writing. But it is hilariously crude. Sorta like:
“Vasha, you see what the Americans are saying about us?”
“They say we hacked SolarWinds, and we interfered with the election and we…”
“Ha! It’s like, ‘and then, on the ruins of the chapel’ from that movie?”
“Hahaha. That’s good! Let’s use that”
First of their name
The thing is, they are furious. While the GRU embraced “Fancy Bear” the SVR is not having it. They are not “APT 29”. They are not “The Dukes.” And they are absolutely not “Cozy Bear”!
In all this verbiage, the most unpleasant thing is: “The SVR of Russia, also known as …”. Sorry, gentlemen, but the SVR of Russia has been known to the whole world since 1920 as the Foreign Department of the Cheka, the 5th Department of the First Directorate of the NKVD of the USSR. Since the middle of the last century – the First Chief Directorate of the KGB of the USSR, and now – the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation.
Not The Dukes. Not APT 29. And. not. fucking. Cozy. Bear!
That’s All Folks
The entire response is just five paragraphs.
- A reference to a joke from a 1960s soviet comedy film.
- A summary of the President Biden’s statement, to wit: “he explained to mankind what a threat Russia poses to the World.”
- The quote, above, in which the US IC calls SVR “Cozy Bear.”
- Full throated statement of their lineage and their name.
- They wax ecstatic about the glorious history of Russian secret police. Really.
That is the entire statement. The response to the two press releases from the US Treasury department, a statement by President Biden, statements from France, NATO, and the EU is just these five paragraphs. The main points being that accusations of spying, against them, the intelligence service, is laughable. Furthermore they are the SVR, first of their name, from the proud lineage of Russian secret police, and not Cozy fucking Bears!