Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 224

An American businessman, Richard L. Bliss, was arrested in southern Russia on November 25 and is being held on charges of espionage, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said yesterday. An FSB spokesman said that Bliss is accused of using satellite receivers, illegally brought into Russia, to gather information from restricted sites in the cities of Rostov and Bataisk. If convicted of espionage he could be sentenced to between 10 and 20 years in prison, the spokesman said. A U.S. Embassy official said in Moscow yesterday that Bliss — along with another American who was arrested and then released — "have no connection with the U.S. government and certainly are not spies."

Bliss, who is being held in Rostov, is employed by the San Diego-based communications company, Qualcomm Inc. A maker of wireless communications gear, the company reportedly has projects in Chelyabinsk, Rostov, and Moscow. A U.S. State Department spokesman said in Washington yesterday that Bliss had been using a global positioning system device in order to gather data for the development of a cellular telephone network and that Bliss and his employer claimed to have acquired the proper documentation to carry out the work. The same official said that the U.S. last week had protested delays by Russian authorities in allowing the U.S. consular access to Bliss. According to the official, a U.S. embassy official was finally allowed to see him yesterday. He added that Bliss had not yet been formally charged with any crime. (Reuter, AP, Russian agencies, December 1)

Shevardnadze, Aliev, Lucinschi Close Ranks to Promote Vital Interests.