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11 November, 2011

A passion For Espionage

Western society is in the wrong when it thinks that talk of a thick network of Russian spies in their countries is not true

The Western mass media keep reporting that Russian spies are being exposed with increasing frequency. I have 50 years of experience in running Soviet intelligence, and I reject this conclusion. There were only three cases recently and all of them were very minor.

The Chapman spy ring in Washington was just a joke, a caricature of intelligence. In fact, that ring did not accomplish anything there. None of them was working seriously. The sexy Anna Chapman simply got a well-paid job and excellent living conditions in the West through her father – that’s all there is to it. She was of absolutely no use. The recent detainment of Andreas and Heidrun Anschlag – as they were identified in the investigation – in Germany is evidently linked to double agent Alexander Poteev, a Russian colonel and deputy chief of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service who defected to the USA and reported on the Chapman ring. I believe that the Anschlags are old agents who were there in Germany since Soviet times. People like them were sent there by truckloads back then. It is hard to say as yet how productive the couple was. What is interesting about them is that they were the first to be suspected of spying for Russia and arrested in Germany after the end of the Cold War. This scandal may somewhat sour the relationship between Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin.

Russian spy: Katia Zatuliveter Photo: EDDIE MULHOLLAND

A more serious (and more interesting) case is that of Katia Zatuliveter, who was caught in Great Britain in the fall of 2010. She is a very skilful spy: she took documents out of the British parliament four times. She got into parliament in a cunning and stealthy way — by becoming an aide and lover to Liberal Democrat MP Mike Hancock, a member of the defense select committee in the House of Commons. With two military diplomas under her belt (one from Russia and the other one from Great Britain), Zatuliveter engaged in military and political espionage. Now this is the core specialization of the Russian special services. I believe she was more effective and inflicted more damage on UK security than the entire KGB rezidentura in Britain put together. She is the best Russian spy in the past 20 years. Now the Home Office is pushing for her deportation on the premise that she is a threat to the UK security but charges of espionage have not been formally filed. Even though Hancock has claimed that Zatuliveter has never had access to protected information, he still voluntarily resigned from the defense committee.

Mike Hancock MP. Foto

But Zatuliveter flatly refuses to go to Russia. She has hired the best attorneys and is fighting as much as she can. If she is deported, her career as a spy will end her. No other country will admit her, and that would be a tragedy for her. However, the investigation has already lasted 11 months and this suggests she will stay in the UK. I don’t see this story having any consequences for London-Moscow relations, because officially, she is a private individual rather than a member of a Russian institution.

Thousands of people are spying for Russia around the world these days – I believe as many as there were in Soviet times. Their task is to bridge the commercial and military gap between Russia and the West. The problem is that European society tends to laugh off the notion that their countries are covered by a thick Russian spy network. They think it’s a bluff. The Cold War is over now, they say with a grin.

Of all the contemporary powerful intelligence services in the world today, the Chinese stand out, while Russia and Kazakhstan are the strongest in the post-Soviet territory. As far as Ukraine is concerned, I am not aware of any Ukrainian trace. I watch for it and want to find it but there is none. I think your intelligence service is very weak. It has either just started working or is too deeply involved in Ukraine’s domestic affairs.

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