back to article What could be more embarrassing for a Russian spy: Their info splashed online – or that they drive a Lada?

It has been a busy week for Russian military intelligence – and it's about to get busier. A database search of car registrations appears to have outed more than 300 GRU agents. Following Thursday's report from Dutch and British authorities of a thwarted hacking attack involving four Russian nationals alleged to be officers in …

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Re: Or

"What spy, or spy-wannabe, has only one set of ID?"

Having several sets of ID is useless if you can be found on a publicly accessible car registration database, because you chose to register your car at spy HQ, so you could get out of traffic fines.

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When I visited Russia in about 4 years ago there were still plenty of Lada cars driving around. Some of them looked quite new though so I think they must have continued to produce them well after they stopped selling them in the west.

Although judging by the state of some of the cars I suspect that there is no such thing as an MOT in Russia and a lot of people keep on driving old cars until they fail completely or cost to much money to fix.

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@mark i 2

Ladas were originally Fiat-Russian and are now Renault owned. I think the last Soviet-era looking Lada was produced till about 2010. The East German factory manager I knew in the early 90s had one till he emigrated to the West and drove it to France and back when the Wall came down; they were designed to be serviced by the kind of people who owned them (i.e. taxi drivers, engineers and mechanics) and lasted a long time if looked after.

They were better made than the Ural a friend rather foolishly bought which kept losing compression till he discovered the cylinder studs were made of mild steel and kept stretching.

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Re: @mark i 2

-- They were better made than the Ural a friend rather foolishly bought which kept losing compression till he discovered the cylinder studs were made of mild steel and kept stretching. --

Should have bought a Marusho, if he definitely wanted a not-BMW. :-)

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Re: @mark i 2

"Should have bought a Marusho, if he definitely wanted a not-BMW. :-)"

Now I've looked it up, seen a BMW copy prettier than an actual BMW, and I want one.

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Re: @mark i 2

"They were better made than the Ural a friend rather foolishly bought"

The Belgian Lada distributor also sells UAZ trucks, for incredibly high prices. Crash protection, none. Design fossilised about 1947. I can't imagine that they sell many of them.

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A Lada is OK. What if the poor guy was stuck with a Moskvich?

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Isn't that the one that comes with a toolkit? A hammer and a sickle...

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They will not go for anything less than BMW X5 or Mercedes GL-Class these days. Maybe will consider an Aurus.

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Whats wrong with a Lada? I'd be embarrassed if I drove a Ferrari or a Lamborghini...Someone might think I was a banker or some other leech like creature...Beelzebub forbid.

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Anonymous Coward

After the farcical “identification” of one of the Salisbury accused with a GRU agent by bellingcat, why would anyone believe anything from him? Clearly the two gentlemen are different, or did the GRU agent patriotically have his ears pinned back for the operation?

Also actual imagery experts have questioned the accuracy of bellingcat’s imagery analysis which shot him to fame.

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Devil

"...did the GRU agent patriotically have his ears pinned back for the operation?"

In case you haven't noticed, people with sticky-out ears have almost vanished since the popularization of Superglue.

8^)

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Not to mention having had his skull reshaped with a bit lopped off the sides and put on the top whilst pushing his eyes further apart.

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Niet

"After the farcical “identification” of one of the Salisbury accused with a GRU agent by bellingcat, why would anyone believe anything from him? "

What's the weather like in Moscow at the moment?

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Anonymous Coward

True story. Last winter I was visiting Central Asia – one of the very cold republics. I saw about half a dozen BMWs being fixed on the side of the road and started with a Lada. No stranded Ladas at all, they seemed to go well in the very cold (-30 celicius).

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My younger brother, a car mechanic, owned a Lada for several years that he bought when he was 21 or so. He swore BY his Lada Niva (instead of AT it 8^), as it was trustworthy and easy to repair, and very good at going cross country. In the end, he ditched it due to the fuel it guzzled.

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> I saw about half a dozen BMWs being fixed on the side of the road

Every time it snows in the UK, many BMW owners find that rear wheel drive cars don't behave very well in the snow and have to leave them by the road...

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No - they usually park them sideways in the ditch at the side of the road - next to the mercedes.

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I'm guessing the Audis, especially quattro variety, are still about 1 inch from the car in front.

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An important lesson comes from this story

Being evil does not make you competent.

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Big Brother

Re: An important lesson comes from this story

No, but appearing to be incompetent at being evil; and being caught and thought to be incompetent, will aid when you want to do actual evil competently elsewhere.

The thing to think of is: How to take the UK out of the international running right now? Make it look like Russia was involved in Brexit. Thin the herd of a few useless agents with a hope they may pop a known detractor off. They're expendable. It's a win-win scenario.

Using the knowledge that, frankly, the UK will muck up Brexit completely unaided, all they have to do is appear to be mucking around, get a few deadwood chaps caught to make it look like their not very good at this whole international spy thing, maybe off a detractor.

Honestly; it's a Xanathos Gambit!

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/XanatosGambit

(I'd apologise for people getting caught on a TV Tropes wiki hole, but frankly, they should know what they're doing, reading The Reg!)

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The sad thing is

100+ GRU agents driving the same Lada. That would be some rotating car-pool. Monday: 3 in the front, 7 in the back, "...Igor, Maxim, Sergei, Boris; you're in the trunk."

"Oh Shitski, again‽ "

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The sad thing is

I once worked with a sales outfit where the salesperson who dinged his company car would be driving the rusty company Lada while his normal car was in the shop.

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Re: The sad thing is

Oh my, is that truly the rare sight of a wild interrobang in its natural habitat...?

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Hmmmm

I'm thinking of buying a Lada, I wonder if this will instantly identify me as a Russian spy? After what feels like a very long absence from the European market, because they couldn't meet emissions standards, the Lada 4x4 is back on sale in Germany and Belgium. They are are great rough and ready alternative to the Faux by Fours sold by the major manufacturers.

Lada Niva, Germany

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I'm actually going to buy a Lada before Brexit kicks in, just so that no one will cut me up for the fear I'm a Russian spy who'll Novichok them.

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Re: Lada...

I know. I see them come up on eBay for over £2,000, but a lad at work showed me the Hungarian eBay and they go for about €150.

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Electric Trabant acid test

I got on the wrong train and ended up behind the Iron Curtain by mistake.

It was just after the Berlin Wall fell, and some West Germans were being allowed into East Germany, but no Brits were. We were allowed into Czechoslovakia, and not speaking German I boarded a train labelled Praag. An entrepreneurial ticket inspector demanded money for a handwritten note, which presumably read, "This lad is an idiot and he has money".

It dawdled all through East Germany, and by the time it got to Dresden I realised this was worse than the time I accidentally got a train to Falkirk. Karl Marx Staadt at night was an industrial dystopia.

The road traffic was a political metaphor - BMWs speeding past Trabants. Trabants were like Ladas, but coal-powered judging from their exhaust emissions.

I got to the Czech border and was marched off the train by two burly Czech soldiers with furry hats and AK-47s. They ignored me telling them in English and French that I was allowed there and waved me back to the East Germany station 100m back. A pretty female East German border guard drew her pistol and waved me back towards Czechoslovakia. I pointed at her, then at her pistol, then at the two Czech soldiers and at their rifles and then threw up my hands in the universal sign of befuddled idiocy.

She told me through irate German and pointing at maps that I could remain but I had to go straight to Berlin. I ignored her and got on the same train I'd just been on it's return journey to Munich.

Two days without eating or sleeping and I was beginning to hallucinate, and when I finally got to Munich I met the first English speaking East German on my journey.

I heard a while back the Trabant was going to be revived as an electric car which kind of makes sense because it was so small and light it'd probably run off AAA batteries.

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