Among the agents arrested by US intelligence agencies are 28-year-old businesswoman Anna Chapman, who rotated in the circle of London and New York playboy billionaires
Spyware историяwhich at first resembled a parody, in fact, perhaps, is only the tip of a grand iceberg. And even the cover of the real and effectively acting in the US Russian intelligence network
The simultaneous arrest in the USA of 10 agents of Russian intelligence immediately caused a sensation on both sides of the ocean. Both in America and in Russia they cried out about a return to the methods of the cold war. Especially angered all the fact that the exposure of the spy network occurred immediately after the visit of Dmitry Medvedev. It turns out the case, Russian can not be trusted! - spoke in the USA. And in Moscow they habitually asserted about certain reactionary "circles" and "forces" leading undermining the "reset" policy. Reassured, in both countries they began to say that this was not espionage, but some kind of farce. But after all, espionage is largely a farce, operetta and a soap opera. The spies themselves turned him into a heroic saga.
The apartment building resembling an open book in which Patrisha Mills and Michael Zotolli lived, they are also Natalia Pereverzeva and Mikhail Kutsik, clearly visible from my balcony. We went to the same supermarket for groceries, played tennis on the same courts, and in three years their eldest son would go to the same elementary school that my daughter went to.
There is nothing surprising here: in Washington and its immediate suburbs, the concentration of spies, former and current, is such that it is difficult not to encounter them, just not everyone knows their faces. There is the International Museum of Spying, in which retired knights of cloak and dagger, bus excursions to places of espionage fame and second-hand bookshop, specializing in intelligence history books, where veterans of the invisible front are going to work. In the fall of 1994, my wife and I arrived in Washington, left the hotel in the morning - and the first passer-by who met us was Oleg Kalugin. He recognized me, but didn’t give me a look, only angrily glanced frowningly. And once a former CIA employee and a retired GRU colonel met in my house — they had once worked against each other, but had never met before.
The neighbors of the arrested agents, on whom, in the absence of other objects, television has attacked, gasp, are amazed - they say, they were not at all like spies, and here it is necessary! - but perceive their neighborhood with them rather as a curiosity, rather than as a source of danger. This, of course, is a normal, healthy reaction, nothing like the sullen espionage of the end of 1940's - 50's. And the fact that spies were not like spies, speaks in their favor - they were well disguised. However, espionage is a craft in which the disguise grows to the face. For example, among those arrested there are three married couples. Prosecutors stubbornly call these marriages fictitious, but after all, the children born of these marriages are real.
The denouement of this story and various colorful details of the accused’s personal life have been published, but this is where it began — it’s not known and it’s unlikely to be known to the general public. And this is the most interesting. Why on earth did these people incur the FBI suspicions?
Since the contact with the agents was mainly maintained by the staff of the New York office of the SVR, working under the roof of the Russian permanent mission to the UN, there is every reason to assume that the defector Sergei Tretyakov, who was the deputy resident with the rank of colonel, revealed this network.
The owner of the cat Matilda
In October, Tretyakov 2000, along with his wife Elena, daughter Xenia and cat Matilda, disappeared from their office apartment in the Bronx. Only 31 January 2001, the US authorities said that Sergey Tretyakov is in the United States, is alive and well and is not going to return to Russia. After 10 days, an article appeared in the New York Times, citing a source in the US government that the fugitive was not a diplomat, but an intelligence officer. The Russian side immediately demanded a consular meeting with a defector in order to make sure that he was not being held back by force. Apparently, such a meeting was organized - in any case, the demand no longer repeated, the story quickly died out. This fully met the interests of both parties.
The Tretyakov family began to live in the USA under different names - only the cat did not change the name. In February, 2008 of the Year published Pete Airlie's book Comrade X, which tells about a defector with his own words. For the sake of the advertising campaign, Tretyakov left the underground for a short time and gave several interviews. And then he lay down again and did not transmit call signs. Experts rated skeptical Erly's opus. One of the most respected experts, David Wise, wrote in his review: "All defectors tend to exaggerate their meaning - they are worried that when they run out of secrets, they will become unnecessary to anyone."
Wise considers Tretyakov’s escape to compensate for the reputational damage inflicted by the Russian “moles” Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen, but Tretyakov is clearly inferior in value to these two agents. On the other hand, it is known that Tretyakov received a record reward - more than two million dollars. “I have never asked a cent from the American government,” stated Tretyakov in the preface to the book. - When I decided to help the United States, I never even stuttered about money. Everything I received was given to me by the US government on its own initiative. ”
It was after his escape that the FBI began to monitor the members of the now-opened intelligence network. Given the awareness of Tretyakov, it is difficult to call coincidence.
Spy new generation
Surveillance has been highly professional. The suspects turned out to be bad conspirators and, apparently, amateurs. They did not assume that they were not only monitored externally, not only their conversations were recorded, both by phone and in the house, among themselves, but that the FBI, equipped with a court order, secretly penetrate their homes, copy the hard drives of their computers. and encryption notebooks, intercept and read their radiograms and electronic reports to the Center.
American counterintelligence has not harvested such a bountiful harvest for a long time. It was a network of illegal agents - not recruited, but prepared and sent with the long-term goal of “deep diving”, with legends and strangers, not fake, but authentic documents. In 30, illegal immigrants were the main weapon of Soviet intelligence, its main resource. In this case, the SVR has returned to its previous practice, but on a completely different, higher and more complex level. Who was the head of the New York illegal residency in 1950 Willy Fisher, aka Rudolf Abel? A modest photographer, owner of a small photo studio. He hid his microfilms in hollow bolts, coins and pencils and handed them to the Center, laying them in hiding places.
In our time, spies do not hide in dark corners, do not give themselves an ordinary appearance and do not cut Pyataks in the closet. 28-year-old redhead Anna Chapman, who turned the tabloids into a new Mata Hari, on the contrary, in every way sought to attract attention, rotated around London and New York billionaire playboys, had her own small but strong business worth two million dollars and at the same time, she did not conceal her biography at all: a native of Volgograd, a graduate of the Peoples' Friendship University of Russia, who had long been a personnel training center for the KGB. In order to establish connections, she actively used social networks and in one of them, Facebook, placed her portrait in a pioneer tie among other pictures. Stirlitz would be horrified by the mere thought of this! True, in terms of age, Anya seemed unable to be a pioneer, but the more interesting she was, she tied a tie for a fan. Yes, this is the spy of a new generation.
It must be admitted that the FBI itself contributed a lot to the excitement around Anna. In spy stories, the most interesting thing is not the subject of espionage, but the entourage. Well, what, in fact, the difference, what exactly secrets was extracted by Mata Hari? The important thing is that she is a courtesan, an artist, a seducer - this is what the public likes. And, of course, it is also curious to read about any spy tricks. The bodies understand this. And bring the goods from the most advantageous side.
The most modern was the way of its communication with the Center. No caches - all the reports were transferred from the laptop of the agent to the laptop of the station employee using a closed wireless network. Communication was established for a short session time. But, apparently, it was not for nothing that the Russian "mole" in the FBI counterintelligence, Robert Hanssen, an expert in computers and modern means of communication, firmly rejected the proposal of the KGB Washington residence to use more advanced communication methods and insisted on old-fashioned caches. The FBI agents spotted the Pans of the message with a device available to anyone. Conversations are always held on Wednesdays. Anya opened her laptop while sitting in a cafe or a bookstore, and drove past by car or simply walked nearby with a case in her hand a diplomat from the Russian permanent mission to the UN, whose identity was not difficult.
These sessions were the biggest mistake and violation of the conspiracy rule, which says: intelligence officers under official diplomatic cover should not have any relation to illegal immigrants. In each country, Lubyanka always had two residencies: one legal, the other illegal.
From January to June of this year, ten such sessions were recorded. In one case, the messenger, having left the mission gates and discovered the tail behind him, turned back. And then came the denouement. Anna forgot the Bulgakov commandment "Never talk to the unknown."
Russian man on the rendezvous
On June 26 in the morning, 11 was called by an unknown man who spoke Russian, identified himself as an employee of the Russian consulate and said that they needed to meet urgently. Anna called him back in an hour and a half and said that she could meet only the next day. The stranger agreed, but after an hour Anna changed her mind - the meeting was scheduled for half-past five in the cafe in Manhattan. In order not to attract attention, switched to English.
“How are things anyway? How does it work? ”Asked the unknown. For an urgent meeting, the question sounded a bit strange. “Everything is fine,” answered Anuta. - That's just the connection junk. She added: “Before I can speak, I need some additional information.” “I work in the same department as you,” the man reassured her. - And here I am working in the consulate. My name is Roman. ” Anna calmed down, and Roman continued: “I know that in two weeks you will be in Moscow, where your work will be discussed in detail with you. I just wanted to find out how you were doing and entrust you with the task. Are you ready? ”“ OK, ”Anya nodded. “So are you ready?” Roman asked. “Damn, I'm ready to do the same,” she confirmed (as in my free translation, her replica “Shit, of course” sounds in Russian).
Anna gave her laptop for repair to Roman, and he handed her a fake passport, which she had to give to the female agent the next morning, said what she looked like, gave the magazine, which Anna should hold in her hand, and the password, which should be exchanged. (The password and review were copied from real ones, in which only geographic names changed: “Excuse me, we didn’t meet there last summer?” - “It may well be, but it was there”.) So that Roman could be sure that the transfer of the passport was successful, Anna had to return to the cafe and stick a postage stamp given by Roman to the map of the city installed there.
Anna diligently repeated the task. Then she asked: “Are you sure that we are not being followed?” “Do you know how long it took me to get here? - Roman answered calmly. - Three hours, three o'clock. But you, when you leave, be careful. " The stranger's last farewell was the words: “Your colleagues in Moscow know that you work well and will tell you this at the meeting. Continue in the same spirit".
After leaving the cafe, Anna began to zigzag: she went to the pharmacy, from there to the Verizon telephone company store, then to another pharmacy, then again at Verizon. Leaving the store for the second time, she threw the company package into the urn. He was immediately examined. The package showed a contract for the purchase and maintenance of a cell phone, written out on a fictitious name and address - Fake Street, which means “fake street”, a package of two phone cards that you can call abroad, and an unpacked charger for a mobile phone, from which it became clear that Anna bought the device for one-time use.
The next morning she didn’t come to the meeting with the lady-agent, she didn’t stick her mark where. What happened next, the FBI does not tell, but on the same day, on Sunday 27 June, simultaneously in several states were immediately arrested
10 people. One managed to slip away to Cyprus, from where he subsequently disappeared.
Anna's lawyer, Robert Baum, claims that his client, having received a fake passport, called her father (she told her English husband that her father served in the KGB, but the lawyer denies it), and he advised her to hand over the passport to the police. She allegedly was arrested in the precinct. At the court hearing, when the issue of release on bail was being considered, the prosecution stated that Anna had called a certain man who recommended her to make up a story, say that she was intimidated, and immediately after visiting the police, leave the country. The release on bail Anna Chapman was denied.
Most likely, the FBI agents realized that they had frightened her and decided to complete the operation. She, in fact, was so close to the end - the trap operation with the participation of figureheads is intended to arrest the suspect in the act. Unlike Anna, another member of the intelligence network pecked at the bait and carried out the task of the alleged resident staff.
Not in Beijing, so in Harbin
This other was Mikhail Semenko. He was born and raised in Blagoveshchensk. He graduated from high school in 2000 (hence, he is now 27-28). He graduated from the Amur State University with a degree in international relations. Trained at the Harbin Institute of Technology. In 2008, he earned a bachelor's degree from the Catholic University of Seton Hall in New Jersey, after which he found work at the powerful non-profit global organization, the Conference Board, with headquarters in New York. This organization is known for its annual business conferences that gather more than 12 thousands of top managers from around the world. A year later, Mikhail changed jobs - he became an employee of the Russian travel agency All Travel Russia and settled in Arlington. In addition to English, fluent in Chinese and Spanish, a bit worse - in German and Portuguese. His lifestyle was similar to that of Anna Chapman: he energetically “rotated in circles” and rode a Mercedes S-500.
He conducted communications in the same way as Chapman. In one of these episodes, he sat in a restaurant, and the second secretary of the Russian mission to the UN parked nearby, but did not get out of the car. The same diplomat was at one time noticed with a covert one-touch transfer of a container with information to another agent at a train station in New York.
On the morning of June 26, Michael was called by the person who pronounced the password: “We could not meet in Beijing in 2004?” Semenko responded with a review: “Perhaps, but, in my opinion,
it was Harbin. " In 2004, he really was in Harbin. We agreed to meet on the street in Washington at half past seven in the evening. The caller reminded Semenko that he should have an identification mark with him. They met, exchanged the same password and headed to a nearby park, where they sat down on a bench. We discussed technical issues during the last communication session. The imaginary diplomat asked Semenko who taught him how to handle the communications program. He replied: "The guys at the Center." How long did the training go on at the Center? A week, but before that it was still two weeks.
Finally, the “diplomat” handed Semenko a folded newspaper in which there was an envelope with five thousand dollars in cash, told him the next morning to lay the envelope in a cache in Arlington Park and showed the park plan showing the exact place under the bridge over the stream. Semenko did exactly that. Bookmark money filmed hidden camcorder. The trap slammed shut.
Anna and Mikhail recently joined the spy network, lived under their own names and did not hide their real biographies. They remained amateurs, despite the short-term training at the Center. All others were illegal. The emphasis is explained by mixed origins. In America, it can not alert anyone. Otherwise, they lived the lives of typical Americans. Their children, apparently, did not even realize that they had relatives in Russia.
Spouses from Montclair, New Jersey, Richard and Cynthia Murphy settled in the US in the middle of the 90s. Their home was famous in the area for its beautiful garden - their hydrangeas, the neighbors say, were just botany masterpieces. Cynthia also cooked well and baked cookies. Their daughters, Kate 11, and Lisa, nine, drove around the neighborhood on their bikes, loved Sunday family breakfasts at the nearest café with pancakes and maple syrup, and delighted their parents with various academic and creative successes. The fact that their parents had a double bottom, and their name is actually Vladimir and Lydia Guriev, became a shock for them.
Another pair of defendants from Boston is Donald Heathfield and Tracy Foley (in court they called themselves Andrey Bezrukov and Elena Vavilova). They posed as naturalized Canadians and have lived in the US since 1999. He is an employee of an international business consulting firm, she is an estate agent. Both succeeded, revolved in a circle of university lecturers and business people, lived in a beautiful house. The eldest son Tim 20 years studied at the prestigious George Washington University, the younger, 16-year-old Alex, finished school. Now it turned out that the real Hitfield, a Canadian citizen, died a few years ago. An inadmissible puncture was made by Tracey: the negatives of her girls' photos were kept in her deposit bank safe on the Soviet film “Tasma” of the Kuybyshev Kazan Production Association.
Spouses Mills and Zotolli (she said that the Canadian, he is an American; in the USA they appeared in 2003 and 2001, respectively) were the first to name their original names and their citizenship in court. As far as can be judged, they did it for the sake of their young daughters (the eldest 3 of the year, the youngest - a year), the custody of which, under American law, during the imprisonment of parents should be transferred to other close relatives, and their relatives in Russia.
Finally, a couple of Vicky Pelaez and Juan Lazaro from the outskirts of New York Yonkers have lived in the US for over 20 for years. She is a Peruvian columnist for one of the largest Hispanic newspapers in America, El Diario La Prensa, a tireless critic of American imperialism. He is a retired political science professor. He pretended to be a Uruguayan and, as is evident from the FBI's recorded spousal dialogue, was born in the Soviet Union — he mentions evacuation to Siberia during the war years. During the investigation it turned out that Lazaro was not a Uruguayan, but Mikhail Anatolyevich Vasenkov. Unless, of course, this name is real. Lazaro-Mikhail admitted that he was an agent of Russian intelligence. Perhaps for this reason, prosecutors did not insist on the detention of his wife. Vicky Pelaez - the only one from the whole group - was released pending trial on bail of 250 thousand dollars, with which the prosecutors of the Ministry of Justice did not agree, who sought her re-arrest.
54-year-old Christopher Metsos stands apart in this group. Judging by a number of signs, it is the most serious of all agents, performing the functions of a network financier and flying to various countries of the world to receive cash. You can’t hand the cash over the laptop, you had to transfer the money personally, and several Russian diplomats showed up at these broadcasts, including in one of the countries of South America. In the US, Metsos, who lived on a Canadian passport, had been on short visits. Since June 17, he was in Cyprus in the company of spectacular brown-haired woman, from whom the hotel staff did not hear a word, and behaved like the most ordinary tourist. Meanwhile, the FBI has put him on the international wanted list. Metsos, of course, could not help but learn about the arrests on the East Coast of the United States. Early in the morning of June 29, he left the hotel and, together with the brown-haired one, tried to fly to Budapest, but was detained by the police. There were no complaints against the brown-haired woman, and she flew to Hungary, and Metsos appeared before the court, which set the date for the extradition hearing, took away his passport and released 33 thousand dollars on bail. After that, Metsos disappeared and, most likely, has already left the island - perhaps, having moved to its northern, Turkish half, and from there to Turkey.
54-year-old Christopher Metsos, apparently, the most serious of all the agents who performed the functions of a financier. He was the only one who managed to avoid arrest.
TASS is authorized to joke
It is interesting that on Monday morning, when the USA did not wake up yet, a spy story was already on the news agencies ’tapes (the first reports of arrests appeared on Monday at about half past five in the morning on the US Eastern Coast) were half past ten in Moscow) in Gorki meeting on the financing of law enforcement agencies. Both Prime Minister Putin and the SVR director Mikhail Fradkov were present. But in the presence of the press, none of them even spoke a word about transatlantic arrests.
The first blow was taken by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who was on a visit to Jerusalem. His statement, made three hours later with the minutes after the first reports, was restrained: we don’t know the details, we are waiting for clarifications from Washington. He did not fail to err: “The only thing I can say, the moment when it was done, was chosen with special grace.” Presumably, the minister hinted that the scandal has mucked the “reboot” to the presidents. After another three and a half hours, a strict statement was made by the Foreign Ministry spokesman. “In our opinion,” he said, “such actions are not based on anything and pursue unseemly goals. We don’t understand the reasons that prompted the US Department of Justice to make a public statement in the spirit of the “espionage passions” of the Cold War.
After this statement in Moscow, statesmen and American experts began to expose each other to reboot enemies. They talked about the "recidivism of the Cold War," but from this reasoning for a mile off, it carries the mossy logic of this war itself, the "trench truth" of the ideological battles of the last century. How tired are these hardened accusations of “circles” and “forces” that strive to spoil such wonderful relations, dig under Medvedev's friendship with Obama, want to discredit their own president! An expert Sergey Oznobishchev, who put it this way, should be recognized as a masterpiece of his own kind: “This plays into the hands of the anti-American circles in our country and first of all the anti-Russian in America in order to derail the improvement in our relations, and can slow down the ratification of the START treaty, the cancellation of the Jackson-Vanik amendment, and may also affect our accession to the WTO. ”
These people seriously believe that the American counterintelligence should allow the agents of the SVR to spy on and on, as soon as relations improve?
But in the evening the belligerent tone of the comments changed to ironically condescending. He was asked by Vladimir Putin, who received Bill Clinton in Novo-Ogarevo. The prime minister joked sweetly: “You came to Moscow at the most necessary time: the police cleared up something here, people were jailed in jails”. "Clinton laughs," says a note from the official transcript.
The message appeared on the tape ITAR-TASS at 17:56. Then everyone understood that it was decided not to attach importance to the incident. At 19:35, the Foreign Ministry published a new statement, sustained in a peaceful tone, and the former with news Foreign Ministry tapes disappeared. In this second statement, I liked this one most of all: “We presume that they will be ensured normal treatment in the places of their detention, and also that the American authorities guarantee access to them for Russian consular officers and lawyers.” Indeed: why, once the "reset", do not let them the very diplomats who transferred money to them and removed information from laptops?
It is quite obvious that by the time journalists in Washington began to be tormented by questions from the press secretaries of the White House and the State Department, the governments of the USA and Russia had already agreed to refrain from unpleasant mutual measures. Both officials stated with confidence that this story would not spoil the relationship and that there would be no expulsion of diplomats from the United States or Russia. A spokesman for Barack Obama's Robert Gibbs said, moreover, that the president was reported on this case several times. Thus, he refuted the version popular in Russia that the actions of the FBI are the machinations of reactionary forces “substituting” Barack Obama. Obama knew about the FBI operation in advance.
It is already known - however, from anonymous sources - additional details of how the political decision was made to arrest and exchange. Presidential advisers learned about the existence of Russian illegal immigrants in February. Representatives of the FBI, CIA and the Ministry of Justice informed them in general about the course of the operation and briefly described each object of surveillance. In the future, senior officials of the White House office met several times for meetings on this issue. President Obama was informed on June 11. Counterintelligence announced its intention to arrest the agents. A detailed discussion of these plans followed, primarily the question of what would happen after the arrests.
No decision was made at that time.
High-ranking officials, already without a president, returned to this topic several times at their meetings under the chairmanship of presidential adviser on internal security and counter-terrorism John Brennan. The Russian reaction was hard to predict. As one of the scenarios, an exchange was spoken about.
Makhnem, but looking!
Spy exchanges entered the practice of the Cold War in February 1962, when the United States exchanged Colonel Willie Fischer, who served 30-year imprisonment, who had identified himself as the arrest of Rudolf Abel, for U-2 pilot Gary Powers. In the future, not only spies, but also Soviet dissidents became bargaining figures. Sometimes, in order to hastily rescue his exposed spy, Moscow specifically arrested an American and declared him a spy. This is exactly what happened in September 1986 of the year with American journalist Nicholas Danilov. A provocateur was sent to him, and when he was on the street handed Danilov a package of papers, the journalist was arrested "red-handed."
The exchange of Danilov for Soviet intelligence officer Gennady Zakharov was the last deal of this kind. Both cases - Powers and Danilov - I described in detail in “Top Secret” from the words of the direct participants of the events. If the negotiations on the exchange of Abel - Powers lasted a year and a half, then the exchange Zakharov - Danilov agreed for two weeks. The scheme worked, but for the present case it was not quite suitable: the deals of the Cold War were exchanges of prisoners of war. And now the parties are not fighting, but they seem to be cooperating. Should one grab publicly by the hand of a guest stealing silver spoons from the sideboard? Wouldn't it be better to take him aside and solve the question quietly, without driving him or himself into the paint? But the fact of the matter is that in Washington there was no certainty that Moscow would even blush a little and not throw a tantrum.
In anticipation of the decision of the political leadership of the CIA and the State Department sketched a list of candidates for exchange. It turned out that there is no one to change especially - Moscow simply does not have a sufficient “exchange fund”. The proposal on humanitarian considerations, on the inclusion in the list of political prisoners, such as Mikhail Khodorkovsky or Zara Murtazalieva, was rejected from the very beginning. The main selection criterion was the presence of espionage charges, real or imaginary. But it would be absurd to seek from Moscow those convicted of espionage for the benefit of some third country. For this reason, neither Igor Reshetin nor Valentina Danilova, scientists serving a sentence of espionage in favor of China, were on the list. Three things remained: the former SVR Colonel Alexander Zaporozhsky (again, I dealt with his case in detail on the pages of the newspaper), the former GRU Colonel Sergey Skripal and Gennady Vasilenko - the former major of foreign intelligence of the Russian Federation.
Vasilenko - the most interesting figure of all three. Very little is known about him in Russia, a little more in the United States. In 1970-80, he worked in Washington and in Latin America and tried to recruit CIA officer Jack Platt. In turn, Platt, known as an outstanding recruiter, tried to recruit Vasilenko and even once came to meet him with a case full of cash dollars. Neither achieved success (at least Platt asserts it), but made friends, met families, and went in for sports together. Once Vasilenko disappeared. It turned out that he had been summoned to Havana for a meeting, and there he was arrested and taken to Moscow, to the Lefortovo prison. It later turned out that Hanssen had passed him, but Hanssen, according to Platt, was mistaken. Vasilenko spent behind bars six months. The guilt could not be proved, and he was released, but was fired from his organs.
Vasilenko entered the service in the NTV-Plus TV company, deputy head of the security service. In August 2005, he was arrested on a new charge. Initially, he was charged with organizing the assassination attempt on Mostransgaz CEO Alexei Golubnichy (Golubnichy was not injured). This charge was not confirmed, but during searches at Vasilenko, they found illegal weapon and components of explosive devices. For this, as well as for resisting police officers, he was convicted in 2006 year. His term of imprisonment expired in 2008 year, for which he added a new one - is unknown. Immediately after his arrest, a foreign intelligence veteran, a former resident in Washington, Colonel Viktor Cherkashin, spoke out in defense of Vasilenko. “I know Vasilenko for a long time, and what happened to me is a complete surprise,” he said in an interview with the Vremya Novostey newspaper. - I doubt that he would become involved in such a dubious undertaking. He is an adult and very responsible person, passionate about his work. "
Vasilenko, Skripal and Zaporozhsky were joined by a former employee of the USA and Canada Institute Igor Sutyagin - including his name on the list seemed justified from a formal point of view and implicitly made the very humanitarian and human rights focus. Of all four, only Skripal pleaded guilty in court to working for British intelligence.
With President Obama, the issue was last discussed at a meeting of the 18 National Security Council in June, six days before Medvedev’s visit.
The time of the arrests was left to the discretion of the FBI. The president, according to sources, did not intervene in this decision. According to anonymous sources, the denouement was accelerated by the intention of one of the illegal immigrants to leave the country - this person ordered a ticket to Europe for the evening of the day when the arrests were made. Most likely, we are talking about Anna Chapman, who was alerted by a meeting with an imaginary contact person.
As if in oil
No matter how hard they tried in Washington to calculate the possible actions of Moscow, the initial statement of the Foreign Ministry that he did not know any Russian spies knew that the Americans who were in charge of the operation acted like a blow to the head with a butt. CIA Director Leon Panetta realized that something had to be done, and called Mikhail Fradkov, SVR Director. As a result, by the end of the day, a metamorphosis occurred in the position of Moscow. The Russian side was immediately sent a list of four candidates for the exchange. Moscow very quickly agreed.
In parallel, prosecutors entered into negotiations with the lawyers of the defendants regarding the pre-trial transaction. It was precisely on the basis of such a deal that those arrested were not charged with espionage. They were accused of not registering, as expected, as agents of a foreign government (the agent in this case is not necessarily a spy), and of laundering money. It remains unclear whether we are talking about their spy fees or some other, much larger amounts. On the first charge, up to five years of imprisonment is due, for laundering - up to 20. The negotiations were about pleading guilty for a less serious crime in exchange for the prosecutors' refusal to file a more serious charge.
It was not easy to convince the accused. The failed agents, who also grew into American soil, wanted to know what would happen to them in their homeland, to have guarantees of a secure future, since all their property in the United States was subject to confiscation. I was excited by the fate of minor children. It is for this reason that Russia recognized them as its citizens and sent them to a meeting with each consular officer. The hardest thing was Vika Pelaez, who does not have Russian citizenship. She was promised a free apartment and 2000 dollars in a monthly “stipend”.
The Russian side decided to issue the release of its prisoners through pardon. Under the Constitution, the president has the right to pardon convicted criminals at his own discretion. However, in order to save faces from prisoners, they demanded that they sign plea pleas. The most difficult decision was for Igor Sutyagin, who had already served 11 from 15 years in prison.
The key element of the agreement was an agreement that Moscow would not take retaliatory measures that were supposed to be “by protocol”, that is, it would not require the departure of American diplomats. As for the Russian diplomats who acted as liaisons with agents, they were most likely offered to leave quietly.
Panetta and Fradkov spoke with each other three times, the last time - July 3. When all the fundamental issues were resolved, they began planning the exchange operation.
8 July afternoon, all 10 defendants pleaded guilty to not registering with the US Department of Justice as agents of a foreign government. After reviewing the terms of the deal, Judge Kimba Wood (at one time Bill Clinton pledged her to the post of Minister of Justice) approved her and sentenced each defendant to imprisonment for a term already served by them as a preliminary sentence. On the same day, Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree pardoning Zaporizhzhya, Skrypal, Vasilenko and Sutyagin.
On July 2, 9, Moscow time (at 4 AM Washington time), the Yak-42 EMERCOM of Russia landed at Vienna’s international airport and then Boeing leased by the CIA. The pilots drove to a remote area of the field, exchanged passengers and lay on the opposite course. The minor children of illegal immigrants were brought to Russia earlier. “Boeing” on the way back sat down at the base of the Royal Air Force Brize-Norton, where Skripal and Sutyagin left the board. Vasilenko and Zaporizhia continued their journey to the United States. Zaporizhia was returning home - in the US he has a house, a wife, and three children.
The instant readiness with which Russia responded to the exchange offer demonstrates the value of the arrested agents and the desire of Moscow to ensure their silence.
But what is their value, since they have not extracted any significant secrets? Moreover, they rubbed their glasses and took their heads off their heads, passing information from open sources as military secrets. It turns out the case, Moscow spent money on parasites, which became easy prey for the FBI, where, in turn, there are parasites who are too lazy to catch real spies? Various witty columnists and professional comedians mocked at this.
First, the prosecutors announced only a tiny fraction of the available materials - just enough to be enough to bring charges in court. Secondly, it is unlikely in our time Russian intelligence has to save money, and the cost of maintaining the exposed group was not at all astronomical. Thirdly, agents really collected rumors, information about the mood in the US administration and in the American expert community on certain issues of international politics, but these were the tasks that they received from the Center.
There is a psychological nuance that Sergey Tretyakov pointed out in one of his interviews: “We have traditionally not believed the information published in the foreign press. Not because it is wrong, but because it is open. We only believed the intelligence - this information is secret and more accurate. And because the demand for intelligence in the current Russian government is probably higher than it was under Soviet rule, because at that time not many KGB immigrants were in power in Russia. ” And then Tretyakov told about the conversation that took place in August 2000 of the year in New York between the Director of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, General Yevgeny Murov, who arrived to prepare President Putin’s visit and the then Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Sergei Lavrov: “He said this:“ I want to remind you that Mr. Putin relies on the information these guys are mining (and pointed at us). Support them and make life easier for them. ”
This is the psychology of the current Russian government: any information becomes valuable if obtained through intelligence channels.
Epilogue after decoupling
The agents obtained from the American bondage are probably waiting for a tolerable existence in Russia, but no more. They are not destined to become national heroes: the press has turned them into a caricature. Anna Chapman, who has become the star of the yellow press, intends to settle in the UK (she has British citizenship besides Russian), but even there she will not be able to convert her story into a fine coin: according to the terms of the deal with the American justice, all proceeds from the commercial use of this story will go to the treasury of the United States.
From the final statement of the Russian Foreign Ministry gives Kafkian logic. “This agreement,” it says, “gives grounds to expect that the course agreed upon by the leadership of the Russian Federation and the United States will be consistently implemented in practice and that attempts to knock this course aside will not succeed.” It turns out that the “reset” is a mutual commitment of the parties not to obstruct spies, and if they are caught, change quickly.
Personally, this whole story didn't seem so lightweight to me from the very beginning. And what if the spies fooled the FBI, I asked myself, if their role was to divert attention from really important agents? It turns out that I am not alone in these doubts. Viktor Ostrovsky, a former Israeli intelligence official at Mossad and the author of best-selling books, in an interview with the Washington Post said that it is simply unthinkable to overlook the kind of surveillance that the FBI suspects imposed. “But if you are being watched, and you stopped spying, you were asleep,” he continues. It turns out that agents imitated activity, deliberately slandered themselves into hidden microphones and hid pictures from their Soviet childhood in deposit safes. The veteran of the American intelligence, who did not want the newspaper to call him by name, agrees with this completely. The notorious dozen, he says, is just the “tip of the iceberg."
And finally, perhaps the most unexpected, the epilogue after the denouement. 13 June in his home in Florida - according to the doctors, from a heart attack - Sergey Tretyakov died. He was just 53 of the year. The message of his death was published only on July 9. Just a day exchange.
The most amazing of the amazing coincidences, metamorphosis and details of this story. Unless, of course, the word "amazing" is appropriate here.