News / USA

Russian Double Agent Betrayed Spy Ring in US

A combo of undated booking photos provided by the US Marshals Service on 29 Jul 2010 shows individuals charged with acting as unregistered foreign agents for Russia
A combo of undated booking photos provided by the US Marshals Service on 29 Jul 2010 shows individuals charged with acting as unregistered foreign agents for Russia
James Brooke

Russia's spy scandal is flaring up again on the news that an intelligence service colonel betrayed the identities of 10 spies, then defected to the United States.

A high-ranking Russian double agent was behind last summer's exposure and arrest of 10 Russian sleeper spies in the United States. The news was published in Kommersant newspaper Friday and later confirmed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

Days before the arrests, a Colonel Shcherbakov, a branch leader of  Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service, fled Moscow to join his daughter and son in the United States, according to the news report.

Gennady Gudkov, a deputy on the State Duma's Security Committee,  told Interfax that the colonel's defection was a major blow to the "S" Directorate, which prepare deep cover agents for overseas work. He said internal alarm bells should have rung because the colonel's daughter was a long-term resident in the United State and the Colonel declined a promotion last year, presumably to avoid taking a lie detector test.

This drawing shows five of the 10 arrested Russian spy suspects in a New York courtroom, 28 Jun 2010
This drawing shows five of the 10 arrested Russian spy suspects in a New York courtroom, 28 Jun 2010

The arrest of its members was an embarrassment to Moscow just days after a summit in Washington between Mr. Medvedev and President Barack Obama.

Russian and American authorities immediately minimized the spy scandal, hoping to keep on track wider cooperation between Russia and the United States in Afghanistan, on Iran's nuclear program and on Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization.

U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle, at the time of the arrests, downplayed their impact:

"US-Russian relations right now are as strong as they have been for quite some time, and nothing that has happened in connection with this spy exchange has done anything to change that," he said.

And, the pattern of minimizing damage continued Friday as Russian state television repeatedly broadcast a video clip showing President Obama and President Medevedev smiling broadly as they strolled into the G-20 Summit in Seoul.

Asked about the spy report, the Russian president told reporters:  "This was not news to me. I knew about it the day it happened."

In Moscow, opposition lawmakers are using the news to call for the replacement of  Mikhail Fradkov, head of Russia's foreign intelligence service. President Medvedev appeared to brush these calls aside, saying merely that the spy investigation will take its course.

Russia's spy story had faded since last summer.

Russian PM Vladimir Putin (File)
Russian PM Vladimir Putin (File)

Back then, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, a former KGB Colonel in East Germany, sang patriotic songs with the spies. Later, at the Kremlin, President Medvedev awarded them top national honors. Anna Chapman, one of the five female spies, took a more public approach. Scantily clad and caressing a silver pistol, she appeared as "Agent 90 60 90" for Maxim, a Russian men's magazine.

Two weeks later, Russian Prime Minister Putin, reminded Russians of the sorry fate that awaits double agents.

Speaking to reporters, Putin said of the unmasking of the Russian spies that:  "This was the result of treason and traitors always end badly. They finish up as drunks, addicts, on the street," he warned.

This week, a similar threatening tone surfaced in the Kommersant report.

The newspaper, one of Moscow's most respected, quoted a source saying of the double agent: "We know who he is, and where he is. He betrayed either for money, or was caught for something. And there's no doubt that a Mercader has been sent for him."

Ramon Mercader was a Spanish Communist sent by Stalin to kill his political rival, Leon Trotsky. In 1940, Mercader visited Trotsky at his house in Mexico City. He killed him with a single blow of an ice ax.

You May Like

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid