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Anna Chapman's nemesis on trial for treason

Anna Chapman at Microphone, With Some Blue Light from The SideMoscow's military court has opened hearings on a former foreign intelligence colonel, who allegedly revealed the identities of Russian spies in the USA in the summer of 2010.

In echoes of the Cold War, Alexander Poteyev, former deputy head of a department in Russian foreign intelligence, is being tried in absentia for treason and defection. He fled to the USA some time ago, Kommersant reported.

His actions lead to the spy scandal last summer, when a group of Russian spies was arrested in the USA in June. They were soon exchanged for four Russians sentenced in Russia for espionage.

Secret hearings

The hearings were declared closed to the public before they even started, and the armed forces managed to keep the names of the judges and other key figures secret, as they entered the building through a private entrance. There were no comments after the hearing.

Court representative Lyudmila Klimenko only revealed that three military judges, a representative from the main military prosecutor's office and lawyers took part in the hearings.

Klimenko refused to name the date of the next hearing and merely said that witnesses were questioned.

Clandestine career

Poteyev, 58, started working in intelligence 30 years ago. He was sent on his first mission abroad to Afghanistan in the 70s. In the 80s and 90s he was member of the KGB's first main department, constantly lived abroad as a diplomat and only came back to Russia to be assigned a new mission and receive an award.

In 2000 Poteyev moved back to Moscow to be put in charge of other agents working abroad. In time he took charge of the so-called "American" S department, which supervised the work of spies abroad.

Even though Poteyev was supervising operations in the USA, his daughter moved there soon after graduating in 2002, followed in two years by his wife. And in 2010 his son followed them, after working for Russian state arms company Rosoboronexport.

All this time Poteyev was working as if nothing untoward was going on, and asked for a vacation to Belarus for a "family visit," but he fled to the US from there.

His former colleagues claim the Poteyevs decided to move to the USA a long time ago, and he had to strike a deal with US authorities. He earned himself both asylum seeker status and money by uncovering Russian agents, including Chapman.

Out of Russia's reach

The trial is just a formality as Poteyev and his family now live in the USA under assumed names and have received housing, financial aid and new documents as part of witness protection programme.

In the event of conviction, Russia will not push for extradition.

Poteyev allegedly passed the USA more information about other Russian agents. However, sources say he only knew their code names and departments where they worked, Rosbalt reported.

Moscow is unlikely to demand Poteyev's extradition or even less to conduct a special operation in retaliation. Poteyev has not been placed on any wanted lists because there is "no point" in it, sources in the special forces told Rosbalt.


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