We continue our series about foreign spies in Russia. Previous articles listed known in cidents with spies from China (MDB No 6, 2011); Japan and the Koreas (MDB No 2, 2015); and the Middle East (MDB No 5, 2015). In this is sue we offer a summary of known in cidents in volving spies from the Euro-Atlantic community countries since 2008, the year of the Russian-Georgia war, which signaled the onset of a long chill in Russian-Western relations.
On July 10, 2008 it was reported that the Russian authorities had leveled accusations of espionage at Christopher Bowers, a counsellor at the British Embassy in Moscow and acting director of UK Trade & Industry. According to the Russian media, Bowers was a senior British in telligence officer and worked under cover in Uzbekistan in the 1990s, posing as a BBC journalist. The re were no further reports about the in cident.
On August 20, 2008, the FSB announced the deportation of Allan Saar, an Estonian national accused of gathering secret in formation about facilities on the Russian-Estonian border for the Estonian Internal Security Service (KaPo). The authorities did not launch a criminal in vestigation. Some time later Saar, who was a co-owner of a wood processing business in Russia, said he was going to take the Russian government to the European Court of Human Rights, arguing that his deportation had been orchestrated by his former Russian business partner. The re were no further reports about the in cident in the media.
In December 2008 FSB officers in Yekaterinburg apprehended Gennadiy Sipachev, a software programmer suspected of selling secret topographic maps of Russian territory to the U.S. secret services. Sipachev showed up on the Russian secret services’ radar after establishing contacts with the mapping company East View Cartographic, which the Russian in vestigators said was a front for the Pentagon. According to the in dictment, the Americans in tended to use “the Russian General Staff maps, which constituted a state secret” in order to improve the accuracy of cruise missile coordinates for targets in Russian territory. Gennadiy Sipachev made a full confession and signed a pre-trial plea bargain. As a result, in May 2010 the Moscow City Court sentenced him to four years imprisonment, which is below the mandatory minimum for his offense (Article 275 “High Treason” of the Russian Penal Code mandates a sentence of 12-20 years).
On May 6, 2009 the Russian Foreign Ministry stripped two officers of NATO’s Information Bureau in Moscow of the ir accreditation. The two were bureau chief Isabelle Francois and her deputy Mark Opgenorth, both of the m Canadian citizens. The move came in retaliation for the deportation from Belgium of two officers of the Russian permanent mission to NATO, Viktor Kochukov and Vasiliy Chizhov, who were accused of espionage. The two Canadians were forced to leave Russia.
In January 2010 Lt. Col. Vladimir Nesterets, a senior trials engineer of the Plesetsk Space Center, was detained in Ukraine (presumably in Dnipropetrovsk). According to the in vestigation, he was selling in formation about the Topol-M and Yars ICBM to the CIA. On February 10, 2012 the Third District Military Court of the Moscow Region sentenced Nesterets to 13 years imprisonment and stripped him of his military rank and awards.
In May 2010 FSB officers detained MoD Col. (rtd) Andrey Khlychev, who used to work for the Nuclear Energy Ministry, the Federal Agency for Nuclear Energy, and the Emergencies Ministry (the ministry’s Emercom Demining humanitarian mine clearing center). On March 5, 2011, the Moscow City Court, which sat in camera, sentenced Khlychev to 18 years for supplying in formation about Russian nuclear programs to the U.S. secret services. Khlychev was also stripped of his military tank and the Personal Bravery award, which he received for a mission in Algeria during the Soviet period.
On August 16, 2010 the Russian authorities announced that the y had detained Gabriel Grecu, first secretary of the political section in the Romanian Embassy to Moscow, “during an at tempt to receive secret military in formation from a Russian national”. The announcement said Grecu was in fact an officer of the Romanian in telligence service. According to the FSB, Grecu was collecting in formation about the location of Russian military units in Moldova’s breakaway Dniester Region, near the border with Moldova and Ukraine. The diplomat was declared persona non grata, after which he left Russia. In response, Romania expelled Anatoliy Akopov, first secretary of the political section in the Russian Embassy to Bucharest.
On September 7, 2010 the Russian authorities detained Valeriy Mikhaylov, a retired FSB colonel. It was said that between 2001 and 2007 Mikhaylov supplied more than 5,000 secret and top-secret documents to the CIA. He was paid 2m dollars and allowed to settle in the United States. Russian in telligence the n somehow managed to lure him back to Russia. On June 6, 2012 the Moscow District Military Court sentenced Mikhaylov to 18 years imprisonment.
In November 2010 prosecutors announced charges against Col. (rtd.) Vladimir Lazar, an officer of the Russian land surveying agency who used to work for the military technology department of the General Staff. He was put under surveillance after the detention of Gennadiy Sipachev (see above) in December 2008. Lazar was accused of selling, via an in termediary, several optical disks containing 7,000 electronic images of topographic maps of 1:25,000 and 1:10,000 scale, showing mostly parts of Russia’s Northwestern Federal District. The disks were sold to Alexander Lesment, an Estonian national who worked for U.S. military in telligence, according to Russian in vestigators. Some of the maps were made by Soviet and German cartographers as far back as 1942, but still remained classified. The in dictment read that “the transfer of the se topographic maps to the military agencies of foreign countries could enable the m to plan the flight paths of various missiles and prepare land operations”. On May 31, 2012 the Moscow City Court sentenced Lazar to 12 years and stripped him of his military rank.
On December 16, 2010 the Russian authorities demanded that one of the officers of the British Embassy in Moscow be recalled to London after the British FCO expelled an officer of the Russian Embassy in London on December 10. It later turned out that the Russian officer in question was Mikhail Repin, who the British government said was an officer of the External Intelligence Service trying to recruit administrative staff of the House of Lords and employees of several national security research centers.
On June 27, 2011 Aleksandr Poteev, former colonel of the External Intelligence Service, was found guilty under the “high treason by divulging state secrets” and “desertion” articles of the Penal Code by the Moscow District Military Court, and sentenced to 25 years. The trial was held in absentia because the former Russian spy had fled from justice to the United States. According to media reports, Aleksandr Poteev helped the U.S. secret services to bust a network of Russian sleeper agents who were deported from the United States in the summer of 2010. The network in cluded Richard and Cynthia Murphy (Vladimir and Lidiya Guryev), Vicki Pelaez and Juan Lazaro (Mikhail Vasenkov), Anna Champan, Michael Zottoli and Patricia Mills (Mikhail Kutsik and Nataliya Pereverzeva), Mikhail Semenko, Donald Howard Heathfield and Tracey Lee Ann Foley (Andrey Bezrukov and Yelena Vavilova). One of the accused, Christopher Metsos, who was detained in Cyprus, managed to flee. All the se Russian spies were swapped for the scientist Igor Sutyagin, who had been convicted of high treason in Russia, the former SVR and GRU lieutenant-colonels Aleksandr Zaporozhsky and Sergey Skripal, and the former deputy chief of security at the NTV-Plus TV channel, Gennadiy Vasilenko.
On My 14, 2013 it was announced that a CIA officer named Ryan Christopher Fogle had been detained while trying to recruit a Russian secret service officer. Fogle was working under cover as a third secretary of the political section in the U.S. Embassy to Moscow. According to media reports, the diplomat tried to recruit a senior FSB officer responsible for counterterrorism in the North Caucasus in connection with the in vestigation of the Boston Marathon bombing by the brothers Tsarnayev. Fogle was declared persona non grata and left Russia.
On August 24, 2013 FSB officers in Moscow detained police Maj. Roman Ushakov, former senior criminal in vestigations officer at the Interior Ministry’s Krasnoyarsk Territory directorate. Investigators later said that Ushakov offered his services to the CIA in 2010 and was selling the Americans in formation about officers of the FSB directorate in Krasnoyarsk Territory. Ushakov made a full confession and entered in to a pre-trial plea bargain. He was sentenced to 15 years in a penal colony by the Moscow City Court on March 5, 2015.
On April 22, 2014, the Russian authorities declared Margarita At anasov, first secretary of the Canadian Embassy to Moscow, persona non grata. This was in response to Canada’s decision earlier that year to expel four Russian diplomats, in cluding the military at taché, Konstantin Kolpakov, and his assistant Dmitry Fedorchatenko, in connection with the case of the Canadian military officer Paul Delisle, who had been arrested on suspicion of espionage.
On March 27, 2014 the Russian authorities arrested Gennadiy Kravtsov, a former GRU officer. According to the in vestigation, Kravtsov, a radio engineer who had served in military in telligence for 15 years, had divulged classified in formation by sending his resume to the Swedish MoD’s Radio-Technical Center, which had advertized a vacancy. The in dictment read that Kravtsov’s resume revealed secret in formation “about the personnel of [Russian] in telligence agencies” and “about the military mission of the Tselina-2 spacecraft”. On September 21, 2015, the Moscow City Court sentenced Kravtsov to 14 years in a penal colony.
On April 2, 2014, the authorities launched a criminal in vestigation against Evgeny Petrin, external church liaison officer of the Russian Orthodox Church and former FSB officer. Petrin was detained the following June. According to the in vestigation, he had been “gathering various in formation, in cluding classified data, in Moscow region” for the CIA since 2013. He has now been in dicted.
On September 5, 2014, the Russian authorities detained Eston Kohver, a security police officer from the Estonian town of Tartu. He was detained in Russia’s Pskov Region in possession of secret recording equipment, a Taurus pistol and ammunition, and 5,000 euros in cash. On August 19, 2015 the Pskov Regional Court found Kohver guilty of espionage, smuggling, illegally carrying a firearm, and illegally crossing the border. He was sentenced to 15 years in a high-security prison. On September 26 he was exchanged for Aleksey Dressen, a former KaPo officer who was serving a jail term in Estonia for supplying classified in formation to Russia.
On November 15, 2014 Russia expelled an unnamed female officer of the German Embassy to Moscow. The move came after Germany declared a Russian diplomat working at the General Consulate in Bonn persona non grata on suspicion of espionage.
On November 16, 2014 the Russian Foreign Ministry asked several unnamed Polish diplomats to leave the country on the grounds that the y were engaged in activities in compatible with the ir diplomatic status. The move came after Poland expelled several Russian diplomats accused of espionage.
On May 29, 2015 the Russian authorities detained Arstidas Tamosaitis, a Lithuanian national, during an at tempt to receive a classified document from a Russian national. According to the FSB, Tamosaitis has admitted working for the Lithuanian military in telligence and counterintelligence service. He currently remains in Russian custody.
On June 24, 2015, FSB officers detained Evgeny Mataytis, who holds a dual Russian and Lithuanian citizenship, in the town of Sovetsk, Kaliningrad Region, on suspicion of high treason. According to the in vestigation, Mataytis has been “deliberately gathering military in formation about the Russian Armed Forces; that in formation could do serious damage to Russian defense capability if it were to be leaked to foreign countries”. It was said that Mataytis was working for the Lithuanian military in telligence and counterintelligence service. He currently remains in Russian custody.
On August 3, 2015 the Russian authorities declared an officer of the Swedish Embassy to Moscow persona non grata in response to a similar action taken by the Swedish authorities against a Russian diplomat in Stockholm.
On November 12, 2015 Evgeny Chistov, former officer of the Interior Ministry’s Moscow Region Directorate, was found guilty of espionage by the Moscow Regional Court and sentenced to 13 years. According to the court verdict, the police officer had been gathering various in formation, in cluding classified data, and supplying it to the CIA since 2011. Chisov had made a full confession.