Friday, 12 October 2007

uk russia spy games cold war style


October 11, 2007

Spy chief accuses MI6 of trying to destabilise Russia

Tony Halpin in Moscow

Russia’s intelligence chief accused Britain yesterday of plotting against the Kremlin to undermine the country’s leadership.

Nikolai Patrushev said MI6 was the most active foreign intelligence service in Russia and claimed that Britain was attempting to shape its political and economic life. Mr Patrushev is one of President Putin’s closest confidants as head of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor to the KGB. His views suggest that Britain is the focus of a campaign against Russia’s enemies as parliamentary and presidential elections approach.

Relations are already strained after Mr Putin rejected Britain’s demand for the extradition of Andrei Lugovoy, a former KGB officer, to stand trial for the murder of Alexander Litvinenko.
“The United Kingdom should be distinguished among other countries because its secret services are not only involved in intelligence activities on all fronts, but are also trying to influence domestic developments in Russia,” Mr Patrushev said. “Since the time of Elizabeth I, British secret services have worked according to the principle of ‘the end justifies the means’. Money, bribery, blackmail - these are their recruitment methods,” he told the Moscow-based newspaper Argumenty i Fakty.

Mr Patrushev accused MI6 of recruiting Kremlin critics, such as Mr Litvinenko and Boris Berezovsky - the billionaire Russian businessman exiled in London - to scheme against Russia. “British intelligence services have lately begun working with people accused of crimes and hiding from Russian justice in foreign countries.”

Mr Litvinenko was poisoned with radioactive polonium210 in London last November. Britain expelled four Russian diplomats in July, prompting Moscow to retaliate by ordering four British envoys to leave. The BBC’s Russian service was forced off air in August and The British Council is under renewed pressure from the Foreign Ministry and tax police.

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