Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 107

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) announced on June 1 that it had detained a Latvian national in the Pskov Region and opened a criminal investigation against him on charges of espionage. The FSB and an orchestrated television reportage named the man but stopped short of fingering a country or organization behind him. It alleged that he was attempting to smuggle over the border–that is, from Russia into Latvia–a set of Russian military-topographical maps, classified secret and top secret, of the Pskov and other regions in northwestern Russia (NTV, June 1). On June 2, Latvia’s Security Police (SP) chief Janis Apelis called a briefing to explain that the Latvian arrested in Russia was a timber salesman interested in forests and was carrying Soviet-era maps, left behind by Soviet troops and available in the Latvian retail trade (BNS, June 2).

At the same June 2 briefing, Apelis announced that three weeks earlier the SP had detained a Russian resident of Daugavpils who had been spying for a foreign power. Motivated by “nostalgia for the former Soviet Union,” the man had handed to the “foreign” agents his written reports about the installations and organization of Latvia’s Border Guard, economic and social conditions, political activities and inter-ethnic relations in Daugavpils (Latvia’s second-largest city, heavily settled with Russians during the Soviet period). Apelis referred to some of those reports as distorted by ideological bias and thus of little real value to the country of destination, whom he stopped just short of naming (BNS, June 2). That country released the Latvian national the same day.