Reports Suggest Russia Is Ready To Reopen Intelligence Base In Cuba

By Lyndsey Kelly
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America

HAVANA, Cuba – Recent news reports suggest that Russia has reached a provisional agreement with Cuba to reopen its electronic spying center which was once located on the Caribbean island and used to spy on the United States. Sources state that the agreement was made between Russia and Cuba on Friday, July 11th when Russian President Vladimir Putin made a trip to Havana, Cuba.

Russian President Vladimir Putin denies allegations concerning Russia’s reopening of the Lourdes base (Photo Courtesy of The Washington Times).

The Russian base was created in Lourdes, Cuba, just south of Havana, in 1964 after the Cuban missile crisis.  At the height of the Cold War the Russian intelligence base had nearly 3,000 personnel and was the biggest center used by Russia to gather intelligence from radio signals.

The base, located just 150 miles from the United States coast closed thirteen years ago. The precise reason behind the closing of the base is unclear. The Russians claim it was a “goodwill gesture” toward the United States, while many United States officials  believed it was a result of an economic crisis at the time.

Russian defense experts say that reopening the base would be a logical move for Russia as it would significantly increase the country’s ability to gather intelligence. Vyacheslav Trubnikov, the former head of Russia’s foreign intelligence service, told a Russian newspaper, “Lourdes gave the Soviet Union eyes in the whole of the western hemisphere… For Russia, which is fighting for its lawful rights and place in the international community, it would be no less valuable for the USSR.”

Reports did not give any financial details as to the agreement between Russia and Cuba. However, it has been noted that before President Vladimir Putin’s trip to Havana, Russia agreed to forgive 90 percent of Cuba’s $32 billion Soviet-era debt.

Putin has denied all reports that Russia plans to reopen the Lourdes base, and said that Russia has no plans to resume the electronic spying center. Additionally, Cuba has remained silent as to the reports. If the reports prove to be true the efforts made by Cuban President Raul Castro to build a more pragmatic relationship with the United States may quite possibly be damaged.

Despite the alleged efforts made by Russia to reopen the intelligence base, analysts say that Russia’s ability to gather information on the United States Government would be severely limited due to the improvements in technology since the Cold War.


For more information, please see the following:

HAVANA TIMES – Russia to Reopen Spy Center in Cuba – 16 July 2014.

REUTERS – Putin Denies Russia to Reopen Soviet-Era Post In Cuba – 17 July 2014.

REUTERS – Russia set to reopen Soviet-Era Spy Post on Cuba: Source – 16 July 2014.

WASHINGTON TIMES – Putin Gives Obama ‘Middle Finger,’ Strikes Deal to Reactivate Spy Base In Cuba – 16 July 2014.

War Crimes Prosecution Watch Volume 9 – Issue 9 July 28, 2014

Evidence of Fijian Military and Police Torture has Little Effect on Upcoming Elections

by Max Bartels

Impunity Watch reporter, Oceania 


Suva, Fiji

A year ago a video surfaced on YouTube of Fijian security personnel beating two handcuffed prison escapees, one of the detainees was beaten with batons and metal bars while the other was viciously mauled by a dog that was encouraged by its police handlers. The man was mauled so badly that his leg was eventually amputated due to the severity of his injuries. After the video surfaced there was a public outcry to investigate the matter, police then dated the video to a year before its release and claimed that they would pursue an investigation.

Iw #8 Fiji Torture
An image from the video showing the detainee being beaten with a metal bar
(Photo Curtesy of ABC News Australia)

It has been a year since the case was first brought to the police, they have since closed their investigation saying they would examine their findings to look for possible prosecutions. The investigation closed last December and still no cases have been presented for prosecution. Amnesty International in both Australia and New Zealand are speaking out on the matter saying the interim military government is protecting its own and obstructing justice. Amnesty claims that it is widely known in Fiji who the men are in the video and that all the evidence in the case is very clear and there is no excuse if the case isn’t taken any further.

After the video originally surfaced a year ago the military head of the government, Prime Minister Bainimarama said that he would stand by his men. Bainimarama has since stepped down as Prime Minister to pursue the upcoming elections, however he appointed a replacement Brigadier- General Tikoitoga. Tikoitoga has expressed the same views as Bainimarama saying that in many cases where the military or the police use force such as in the video it is to keep people from creating a potentially dangerous environment.

Since the accusations from Amnesty and accusations from the Fijian People’s Democratic Party, the political party running in opposition to Bainimarma, the Police Commissioner of Fiji  has said that he will continue the investigation and also investigate all complaints from the Fijian public relating to police and military brutality. Furthermore, the Commissioner has said that it does not matter who the subject of the investigation is, be they military or politician, no one is above the law.

These accusations come at a critical time for Fiji, which is undergoing political upheaval as the military government that seized power by a coup in 2006 has decided to step down and allow general elections. Despite pressure from Australia and New Zealand over the torture video the interim leaders of Fiji have not responded. In spite of widespread accusations of police and military abuses Bainimarma is ahead on the polls and he has looked in other directions for international trade and support mainly to China, India and Indonesia. The military government is not willing to take the torture matter any further, and with the video having little effect on the outcome of the elections it seems the leaders of the military government will maintain power.

For more information, Please see:

ABC News Australia — Amnesty Accuses Fiji of Delays in Police Over Alleged Torture of Prisoners — 7 March 2014

The Fiji Times — Police Promise Probe — 26 July 2014 

The Fiji Times — Serious Allegations — 28 June 2014

The Sydney Morning Herald — Fiji Military Leader Admits Beatings Torture — 20 June 2014