Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 16

On January 22 a spokesman for Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB)–the main successor organization to the Soviet-era KGB–said that his agency is keeping tabs on hundreds of agents working for foreign intelligence organizations. In 1998, the spokesman said, the FSB nabbed thirteen foreign intelligence agents in Russia while thwarting nineteen bids by Russian nationals to provide classified information to foreign operatives. He did not provide details. The spokesman also said that a special hotline, set up several years ago by the FSB, had received over 1,000 calls in 1998–of which sixty were said to have been of interest to the agency (Russian agencies, January 22-23; AP, January 22). The “hotline” was established with the express purpose of encouraging Russian nationals to confess their ties to foreign intelligence organizations.

The FSB spokesman also repeated Moscow’s oft-made claim that it has not leaked any rocket or nuclear technologies to foreign countries, and said that Russia is above reproach on this score (Russian agencies, January 22). The United States and Israel have repeatedly accused the Kremlin of failing to stop cooperation in this area between Russian specialists and Iran. Israeli Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon restated the charge during his visit to Moscow last week. Earlier this month the United States imposed sanctions against three Russian institutes accused of improper cooperation with Iran. The action, to which Moscow responded furiously, brings to twelve the number of Russian institutes Washington is now penalizing for leaking sensitive military technologies to Iran. The issue is expected to be at or near the top of the agenda during U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s talks in Moscow this week.