Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 208

Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) denounced Washington on November 4-5 for the October 29 arrest of a former Soviet intelligence officer. According to a November 4 SVR statement, Vladimir Galkin had retired from foreign intelligence work in 1992, and had been granted a visa by American authorities for a visit to the U.S. despite full disclosure of his previous professional activities. The statement charged that the granting of the visa and the subsequent arrest at New York’s JFK airport had been a set-up and a contravention of the normal rules governing treatment of former intelligence personnel. It called the action a "dirty trick" and warned that "former U.S. intelligence agents who visit Russia will not thank the FBI for this." Despite the threat, an SVR spokesperson suggested that Moscow was working for Galkin’s quick release in the hope that it would obviate the need for any retaliatory actions. (Interfax, Reuter, November 4)

Galkin is accused by the U.S. of having worked in 1990-1991 with an Indian businessman in an effort to procure U.S. military data that included information on the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). According to court papers filed by the FBI, Galkin offered $10,000 each for three reports dealing with SDI, electronic warfare, and other U.S. strategic systems. Russian diplomats said that Galkin is to be arraigned in Boston, and that he faces eight or more years in prison. Galkin had arrived in the U.S. on a business visa as part of a delegation that also included Russian Interior Ministry representatives. He is described as the manager of a Russian-American company called Knowledge Express, which is said to deal in telecommunication security systems. (AP, Itar-Tass, November 5; Kommersant-daily, October 31)

The detention of Galkin has reportedly incensed SVR leaders. It follows several well-publicized incidents in which Russian authorities claimed to have apprehended Western intelligence operatives working on Russian territory. Those cases, in turn, have been used to buttress the claims of Russia’s intelligence establishment that Western intelligence services (and those of some Eastern European and former Soviet countries) have significantly stepped up their espionage activities in Russia. (See Monitor, September 6, 26)

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