The deputy director of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) yesterday outlined the wide array of activities the agency undertakes in the area of economic espionage. According to Aleksei Shcherbakov, Moscow’s long interest in economic intelligence was made a major priority in the early 1990s. He listed the SVR’s main objectives in this area as follows: to assess foreign influence on Russia’s economy; to facilitate integration within the former USSR; to forestall foreign threats to Russia’s economic security; to assist the government in attracting foreign investment; and to thwart money-laundering activities of foreign and domestic criminal groups. The agency also plays a major role in overseeing Russian arms dealings, Shcherbakov said, by analyzing the international arms market and advising Russian suppliers and manufacturers on the desirability of dealing with various middlemen.
Shcherbakov described the period since 1991 as a sort of golden era for the SVR and attributed the stability that the agency enjoyed during this period to former SVR head (now Foreign Minister) Yevgeny Primakov. Shcherbakov portrayed his own engineering background as an advantage in his current post, not least because of the contacts that it brought him in Russia’s industrial sector. He suggested, finally, that recent allegations in the West of increased SVR activities are part of a coordinated and long-term Western campaign to undermine confidence in the SVR among Russia’s political elite. He nevertheless said confidently that the SVR will be unaffected by the outcome of Russia’s upcoming presidential election. (Kommersant-daily, May 8)
Clarification on Arrest of Russian Scientist.