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http://www.janes.com/security/international_security/news/jid/jid021203_1_n.shtml

03 December 2002

Russia steps up espionage

JID's intelligence sources indicate that Russia is engaged in a massive stepping-up of espionage activities in Europe and North America. This has been confirmed by a former high-ranking member of the Russian domestic security service, the Federalnaya Sluzba Bezopastnosti (Federal Security Bureau or FSB).

The Sluzba Vneshnei Razvedka (SVR), Russia's civilian intelligence service, is said to have received a direct order from Russian President Vladimir Putin to radically increase foreign intelligence-gathering activities.

In their efforts to recruit members of Russian émigré communities abroad, the FSB and SVR often use coercive methods. These include threats to fabricate prosecution cases against potential targets, who may be accused of committing various crimes in Russia prior to emigrating.

Lt Colonel Alexander Litvinenko, a former FSB officer granted political asylum in the UK, claimed he has evidence that both the FSB and SVR are trying to recruit Russians living abroad in an effort to step up espionage activities.

"Once the FSB or SVR officer targets a Russian émigré for recruitment, they approach them, usually at their place of residence and make an effort to reach an understanding," observes Litvinenko, who was himself convicted in absentia of abuse of office by a Moscow court in June 2002.

"If he or she refuses, the intelligence officer then threatens the would-be recruit with legal prosecution in Russia, and if the person continues to refuse, the charges are fabricated," Litvinenko alleged, adding that extradition proceedings are then immediately launched.

A number of well-publicised cases that have appeared in the international media serve to illustrate the point that the Russian government is prepared to seek the extradition of its nationals living in foreign countries if they are not willing to co-operate.

Putin and his associates appear to prey on Russian entrepreneurs who operate successful businesses that are key to transforming Russia's staggering economy and transforming the country into a functional democracy.

Putin (a former head of the FSB) has surrounded himself with former KGB/FSB officers who serve in various ministerial posts in the Russian government.

Meanwhile, Russian intelligence operations in the West appear to be rapidly escalating. JID sources suggest that the number of SVR officers operating out of the Russian embassy in London has increased from just one in 1991 to the present figure of 33.