Russia Poisoned Spy GRU

FILE - This Tuesday, July 31, 2018 file photo, shows the building of the Russian military intelligence service, located at 22 Kirova Street, Khimki, which was named in an indictment announced by a U.S. federal grand jury as part of a probe into alleged Russian involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, in Khimki outside Moscow, Russia. Russia's military intelligence service GRU is attracting increasing attention as allegations mount of devious and deadly operations on and off the field of battle. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

Formally named the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, the agency is almost universally referred to by its former acronym GRU.

It is the most shadowy of Russia's secret services. When its previous director Igor Sergun died in 2016, the Kremlin announcement was so terse that it gave neither the date, cause or place of death.

The agency has an apparently broad mandate. According to the Defense Ministry website, it is tasked not only with "ensuring conditions conducive to the successful implementation of the Russian Federation's defense and security policy" but with providing officials intelligence "that they need to make decisions in the political, economic, defense, scientific, technical and environmental areas."

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