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The Social Postings Of A 'Russian Spy'


Maria Koleda is accused by Kyiv of being a Russian spy.
If Maria Koleda is a Russian spy, her specialty does not appear to be covert ops.

The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) claims the 22-year-old arrived in the southern city of Kherson on April 4, where over the course of two days she met and coordinated with pro-Russian activists.

An April 7, she allegedly traveled to Mykolayiv and shot and wounded three people in clashes. Ukrainian security services say she informed "her supervisor in the Russian Federation" that she had formed two groups to participate in anti-Kyiv riots in Donetsk.

On April 9, the SBU said it apprehended Koleda in southern Ukraine, and that she confessed to the shooting.

Koleda has posted prolifically on Vkontakte, a Russian social-networking site, and Instagram. Here is what we know from those posts.

On the day she purportedly arrived in Kherson, Koleda posted pictures she said were from Kyiv, including this one. "New friends," she wrote:

She posted several photos of burnt-out buildings, and this one -- a collage of the arsenal allegedly used by Ukraine's riot police, the Berkut. "Yes...And they've apparently forgotten about how they [the protesters] beat the Berkut," she said of the disbanded force that is largely reviled in Kyiv but has support among pro-Russian protesters:

On April 7, Koleda began posting from the southern city of Mykolayiv, where clashes erupted between pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian protesters. Pro-Russian protesters reportedly attempted to take control of the state administration building.

Using offensive language, a user warned Koleda that the SBU would seek out and find her. "OK, search, search," she replied. "And what?"

Early on April 8, apparently after security services had cleared out the pro-Russian protesters but before her arrest, Koleda made her last VKontakte post, using the #antimaidan hashtag. "Mykolaiv! Don't despair!" she said. "All is still in front of us for life goes on!"

Koleda, who lists St. Petersburg and Moscow as her native cities and seems to have worked at some point for Russia's Emergency Services Ministry, also appears to be closely connected to ultranationalist groups. Photos uploaded in 2012 show her training in hand-to-hand combat with Dmitry Dyomushkin, the leader of a neo-Nazi organization.
Maria Koleda, during an apparent combat course with Russian ultranationalist Dmitry Dyomushkin
Maria Koleda, during an apparent combat course with Russian ultranationalist Dmitry Dyomushkin

She has attended several nationalist rallies and shared photos from the trial of a man who was alleged to have led a group called "Moscow Shield" in an attack on migrant laborers.

-- Glenn Kates