A Journalistic Investigation Links Unit 29155 of the Russian GRU with ‘Havana Syndrome’

Although the first victims of the syndrome emerged in 2016 in Havana, the report says that “there were probably attacks two years earlier in Frankfurt.” / EFE

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 1 April 2024 — The health incidents known as “Havana syndrome” may originate from “directed energy” weapons of the Central Intelligence Department of the Russian Armed Forces (GRU). This was revealed on Monday by The Insider, in a long report made in collaboration with the American program 60 Minutes and the German magazine Der Spiegel.

The one-year-long investigation presents, for example, the testimony of victims who saw members of the fearsome Unit 29155 of Russian military intelligence at the scene of the attacks.

One of those victims, a nurse married to a Justice Department official stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi (Georgia), tells The Insider how, on October 7, 2021, she suddenly felt, “as if a high-pitched sound had entered through the window,” which she describes as the one heard in movies after a bomb explodes: “It just pierced my ears.” At the moment she felt “a stabbing headache” and, later, she vomited.

The woman, introduced by the media with the fictitious name of Joy, says that she saw a black Mercedes parked on the street

The woman, introduced by the media with the fictitious name of Joy, claims that she saw a black Mercedes parked on the street in front of her house, and next to the vehicle, a “tall and thin” man. This, as she identified herself in a photograph three years later, was Albert Averyanov, not only an agent of Unit 29155, the GRU squad known for carrying out murders and sabotage operations, but the son of its founder, Andrei Averyanov.

The report presents as evidence the fact that the high-ranking members of the unit received “political awards and promotions” for works related to the development of “non-lethal acoustic weapons”; that is, “directed energy, sound or radio frequency devices, which can cause “acoustic effects” on the brains of the victims.

In addition, she asserts that although the ailment was named from the effect it caused on American diplomats in 2016 in Havana, “there were probably attacks two years earlier in Frankfurt, Germany,” a few months after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014. Then, an employee at the U.S. consulate “fell unconscious by a blow, something similar to a strong ray of energy,” and, later, “he was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury.” This victim “was also able to identify an agent of Unit 29155 based in Geneva.”

The media presenting the investigation claim to have discovered “documentary evidence” that Unit 29155 has been experimenting “exactly with this type of weaponized technology” that experts suggest as a plausible cause of Havana syndrome.

Symptoms of the ailment include chronic headaches, vertigo, tinnitus (auditory sensation that consists of perceiving sounds that do not come from external sources), insomnia, nausea, psychophysiological deterioration and, in some cases, blindness or hearing loss. “Many victims have said that they were well and that they suddenly suffered intense pain or pressure in the skull, usually located on one side of the head, as if they were trapped in a ray of concentrated energy,” the text states.

The appearance of these health incidents in American and Canadian diplomats in Havana was one of the reasons why the normalization with Cuba initiated by Barack Obama when he was president of the United States did not move forward. In 2017, the next president, Donald Trump, decided to suspend consular services in Havana and minimize diplomatic personnel on the Island.

Meanwhile, the Government of Cuba has always denied any responsibility and set up a commission of experts that found no scientific or criminal evidence that linked the symptoms with possible sonic attacks, microwaves or other deliberate action.

On March 1, 2023, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), Avril D. Haines, published a report prepared by seven United States intelligence agencies in which they stated that it was “very unlikely” that a foreign adversary would cause the so-called Havana syndrome.

The Government of Cuba always denied any responsibility and set up a commission of experts that found no evidence of possible sonic attacks

The Insider’s report is also a challenge to that report, which was already criticized at the time by experts such as Marc Polymeropoulos, a former senior CIA officer and victim of the ailment himself. In an interview with América TeVé, last year, he considered himself “betrayed” by the report and insisted on pointing out Cuba and Russia as responsible for the attacks.

“I would say that it has all the characteristics of a Russian active measure. It is what a successful action would look like, one that would cause fear to the adversary, take people out of their work and distract,” the former intelligence agent told the Miami chain at the time.

The statements to The Insider of the first CIA officer affected by Havana syndrome in Cuba, the “patient zero” presented under the pseudonym of Adam, are forceful: “What this long investigation has shown is that either the intelligence community is unable to carry out its most basic function or has worked to cover up the facts and deceive the public and the affected employees.”

Translated by Regina Anavy


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.