Friday, November 27, 2009

do you want me to draw a bloody diagram?

After this post, I thought it might be useful to provide a visualisation of the data involved. I then realised I ought to do it rather better, so I collated the figures for all 47 names from the paper accounts into a spreadsheet and graphed them. This chart shows average monthly spending on mobile and fixed telephony and travelling expenses. (You can get the bigger versions here.)

Telecoms and travelling expenses

Not perhaps too revealing like that. But if you sort the data on the mobile column, the dark blue one and the one we're supposedly interested in...

the same, sorted

I think I see the pattern! There's clearly a core group up the top there around Viktor - they're doing a hell of a lot of phoning and they're also travelling a lot. After that it falls off into the spear carriers; near the bottom, there are people who were clearly close enough to get the odd air ticket but nothing else. The big spike in the fixed (orange) bill is the fixed base operation's Johannesburg office. "Ukraine Builders" probably refers to the fact Viktor and Alla Bout were building a house in South Africa when the mercenary laws chased them out.

There are also a couple of interesting anomalies; the biggest mobile user of all is "Paul Popov", who also has a token fixed-line bill, but who never travels. Strange, that - a heavy mobile user who never travels. My first thought was that he might be the information centre of the whole operation (he's the biggest single phoner of the lot), but then, it doesn't make sense that the fixed bill is tiny compared to the Joburg office.

Actually, I rather suspect he doesn't exist. You can well imagine the usefulness of an anonymous phone number or satellite phone terminal to such an organisation. Perhaps everyone was Paul Popov.

Of course, the names give the whole thing its due dose of seedy glamour; especially the fact that so many only have one. There's Olga - the beautiful spy, I suppose. And "Dr Oleg" - apparently a nontrivial figure going by the data. But one of the surprises in here is how many of the core group never re-appear in the official literature. Naydo is on all the blacklists, but who is Ange Karamakalinijabo, and who is Yuri Stass (it's short for Stassioukatis)? Possibly Alan Smith is a pseudonym for Andrew Smulian?

This is also why you shouldn't worry about the government tapping your phone calls; you should worry about them analysing your phone bill.

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