Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson
#21 - JRL 2006-21- JRL Home
British intelligence broke agreement - Russian security service

MOSCOW, January 23 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's domestic intelligence service decided to go public with information about Britain's alleged espionage activity in the country after British intelligence officers failed to honor a gentlemen's agreement, a spokesman said Monday.

Colonel Sergei Ignatchenko, the head of public relations for the Federal Security Service (FSB), said FSB officers had met with the official representative of Britain's foreign intelligence service in Moscow last week and told him that spying against Russia and financing non-governmental organizations was "unacceptable."

Ignatchenko said that the official representative of the Secret Intelligence Service - better known as MI6 - was one of four diplomats involved in the scandal that broke Sunday night after Russian state television broadcast a program suggesting British embassy officials were engaged in espionage in Moscow.

"The secret services have a gentlemen's agreement that the official SIS representative will not be involved in espionage," Ignatchenko said. "We see that these agreements were breached in this case. In essence, we were deceived. In the near future, we will meet with SIS representatives to talk about these problems."

He said four employees of the British Embassy in Moscow had been caught "financing a number of non-governmental organizations."

"They denied that they were working against us," the FSB spokesman said. "Only after that did we decide to make the FSB's information public."

Non-governmental organizations with financing from other countries are thought to have played a major role in the "revolutions" that have swept former Soviet states in recent years, prompting some Russian politicians to raise concerns that similar activity was being carried out in Russia. Parliament passed a bill restricting the operation of NGOs at the end of last year.