Russia’s Federal Security Service (SVR) was back in the news yesterday as representatives of the agency described two separate incidents in which SVR agents had purportedly managed to thwart foreign espionage activities. The first involved a Russian citizen, said to have been recruited by the CIA to procure classified information on Russia’s latest generation of nuclear submarines. An unnamed SVR source identified the agent as a man named Finkel, who was reportedly an employee of a St. Petersburg naval institute. He is being investigated on charges of treason. The source also took the more unusual step of identifying by name a U.S. embassy official who was allegedly responsible for recruiting the Russian citizen. (Itar-Tass, September 25)
Also yesterday, an official SVR spokesman announced that a Swedish businessman had been accused of filming "strategic facilities" and would be barred from re-entering Russia. The businessman, identified as Hans Engstroemer, had begun working in Northwestern Russia in the fall of 1993 and was involved in defense conversion projects. Engstroemer vehemently denied the Russian allegations in remarks to a Swedish newspaper. (AP, September 25) Less than a month ago the SVR had directed similar accusations at another Swedish citizen, and in that case also claimed to have expelled him from Russia.
Yesterday’s revelations were the latest in a series of spy scandals that have been publicized in recent months by the SVR, presumably to bolster claims by the KGB successor agency that Russia is now awash in foreign spies. Indeed, in an interview published earlier this month SVR director Col. Gen. Nikolai Kovalev had made precisely that point, and added that the agency would soon make public several new "sensational cases," including one involving the CIA. (See Monitor, September 6)
Moldova Urges Withdrawal of Russian Troops.