Intelligence: Russian Spies In The Motherland



May 22, 2012:  The Russian FSB (Federal Security Service) arrested a Russian engineer who was working on the Bulava SLBM (Sea Launched Ballistic Missile). The accused engineer was charged with selling secrets to a foreign intelligence service.  This was nothing new. Earlier this year a Russian court convicted a Russian space engineer for selling missile test data to the CIA.

Last year 41 spies were arrested in Russia. Such arrests have been declining. In 2008, 149 foreign spies were arrested. Of those, 48 were officials of foreign intelligence agencies. Strictly speaking, these are not spies, but the people who seek out locals suitable for recruiting as spies. Of these spies 76 were non-Russians living in Russia and 25 were Russians. Six of those arrested for spying were working for Georgia and one was a Russian citizen from Syria, who was working with Islamic radicals in the Caucasus. China has a major espionage effort going in Russia and a few Chinese operatives are caught every year. The foreign spy agencies have apparently adapted because none has shown any interest in shutting down their espionage operations in Russia.

Some of the spies were simply people the Russian government wanted to shut up and take out of circulation. Charging them with espionage is an old trick from the Soviet period (and ever earlier, as the Czarist secret police used the same technique). In practice, Russia is doing much more spying on others and many more Russian spies were caught overseas each year. But Russia, using a proven Cold War era technique, attempts to deflect criticism of its own espionage activities, by emphasizing the real or imagined spying activity in Russia.

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