Report from the US Institute for National Strategic Studies reveals that Russia trained police in “digital surveillance” in 2018, and that Nestor Moncada Lau, Ortega’s trusted chief security advisor, then formed an “intelligence structure.”
HAVANA TIMES – When government repression bloodied Nicaragua in 2018, with 355 killings and over 2,000 wounded, the country became the site of one of the gravest human rights crises in Latin America. At that time, the regime of Daniel Ortega was receiving training from the Russian Federation, aimed at strengthening their repressive capacities. The Russians have gone on to play “an active role in the national cybernetic intelligence.”
The man charged with making this all possible is Russian Colonel Oleg Surov, who directs the police training center set up in Managua to develop Central American police officers. This information and more is contained in a report from December 2022, entitled: “Dangerous alliances: Russia’s strategic inroads in Latin America.” The report was authored by Douglas Farah and Marianne Richardson, under the auspices of the US National Defense University’s Institute for National Strategic Studies.
“Our sources with direct knowledge of events said that when protests against the Ortega regime broke out in 2018, Surov was tasked with providing special training to a select group of Nicaraguan police, in classes titled ‘Modern Means and Methods to Combat Extremism and Terrorism,’” the authors affirm.
Farah and Richardson are employed as US National Security Consultants for IBI Consultants, a private research and advisory firm. During the 90s, Farah covered Latin America as a journalist with the Washington Post. As a consultant, he has investigated the money trail within Colombia’s FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia), and some of the Venezuelan business dealings. These journalistic investigations have been featured in both the US and Latin American press.
The sources used to write the report stated that Surov operates outside the normal Russian embassy chain of command, reporting directly to Moscow instead of to the Russian ambassador, or chief military official in Managua.
In addition to offering the Nicaraguan regime specialized training in these areas, the objective is to “create a cadre of intelligence officers familiar with and loyal to Russia, who could operate not only in Nicaragua but across the [Central American] region.”
Colonel Surov’s assigned role
Surov is also charged with selecting the “growing number of Nicaraguan officers” sent to be trained in Russia. In 2022, the authors assert, some 150 police officers have been trained in that country.
The Nicaraguan regime’s closeness with Putin is so notable that on December 20, 2022, Ortega praised Zhukov Serrano Perez, the Nicaraguan National Police’s newly appointed Assistant Head of Investigations, by stating that his chief merit was having graduated in the Russian Federation. Zhukov Serrano has worked in the shadows of Nicaragua’s intelligence field since before the 2018 crisis.
The Nicaraguan dictator also lavished praise on his repressive inner circle, a small group of officials, whose principal figures have been sanctioned by the international community for human rights violations. First among these is Commissioner Ramon A