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Monday, 6 May, 2002, 11:34 GMT 12:34 UK
Russia 'target' for more foreign spies
Former KGB headquarters, Lubyanka Square, Moscow
Russia is marking 80 years of counterintelligence
The head of Russia's counter-intelligence service has said there has been a rise in the number of foreign agents spying on Russia.

In a rare interview with Russia's Itar-Tass news agency, Colonel-General Oleg Syromolotov said his country was now seen as a priority target for many of the world's intelligence services.

Russian President Vladimir Putin
President Putin is a former KGB head
Speaking as the country marks the 80th anniversary of its counter-intelligence service, he said foreign spies had been operating against Russia in a "more aggressive, more conspiratorial and more sophisticated way".

Mr Syromolotov is the deputy chief of Russia's intelligence service, the FSB, which is the main successor of the Soviet-era KGB.

He also heads the organisation's counterintelligence arm, the DKR.

He said that 14 foreign agents had been caught red-handed by DKR personnel in the past two years, and that ten of those were staff members of foreign intelligence agencies.

Computer spying

In the same two-year period, some 260 staff members of foreign secret services were "identified and put under watch", Mr Syromolotov said.

There has also been a sharp rise in computer-related espionage, with frequent attempts to break in to secret Russian databases, he said.

Speaking about DKR involvement in the counterterrorism operation in the North Caucasus, he said that FSB operations groups, and anti-terrorist and counterintelligence subunits were constantly working in Chechnya.

"Cases have been discovered where Chechen extremists were supported by people working for the intelligence services of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iran and Pakistan", Mr Syromolotov said.

See also:

20 Dec 00 | Media reports
Russia's sing-song spies
12 Oct 99 | Europe
Italy 'KGB spies' named
26 Mar 01 | Europe
Who is winning the spy war?
20 Feb 01 | Americas
Who's being spied on?
01 Jul 01 | Europe
US diplomats quit Russia
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