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Russia reveals identity of CIA Moscow chief following Ryan Fogle's expulsion

Federal Security Service in Russia has revealed the identity of the CIA's station chief in Moscow in a breach of protocol.

The revelation, made by an FSB spokesman who accused the US agency of crossing a "red line" in its attempt to recruit turncoats among Russian spy agencies, will up the ante in the unfolding spy scandal that emerged earlier this week when Russia detained and expelled an alleged CIA agent working undercover as third secretary at the US embassy in Moscow.

Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin's foreign policy advisor, have taken pains to say they believe the scandal will blow over quickly.

Publicly revealing the CIA station chief proves that some inside the Russian government believe otherwise and is likely to prompt an angry response from Washington.

Speaking to Russia's Interfax news agency, the FSB spokesman said his agency had complained to the CIA station chief as far back as October 2011 "that if they [the Americans] continue their provocative recruitment efforts regarding employees of the Russian secret services, the FSB will take 'mirror' actions against CIA agents". In that statement, the spokesman included the station chief's name.

The US embassy declined to comment . Oleg Kalugin, a former KGB general turned Kremlin critic now living in the US, said: "This is a deliberate attempt to make the situation worse than it is. It's an invitation to the US to do the same and they probably will - and no one will gain."

The US has not reacted to the expulsion of Ryan Fogle, who Russia said was caught in a sting operation last week while allegedly attempting to recruit an FSB agent focused on anti-terrorism efforts in Russia's North Caucasus. Russia widely publicised the case, parading Fogle on state-run television alongside collection of alleged spy gear, including wigs, a map and compass, a poorly written recruitment letter and the recording of a phone call with his alleged target.

The FSB spokesman said the case came after several warnings to the CIA, including the direct appeal to the station chief.

In December, Russia expelled - less publicly - another suspected CIA agent working undercover as third secretary at the US embassy. The FSB spokesman said the man was declared persona non grata on 11 January and expelled four days later.

"In the case with Fogle, the CIA crossed 'the red line' and we were forced to react, observing official procedures," the spokesman said.

His comments were widely published in Russian media and on state-run television, including the Kremlin's English-language channel, Russia Today.

"Basically, the FSB got sick of American spies and demonstratively and publicly slapped one of them," wrote the tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda. "Like a cockroach who thought he was master of the crumbs in the kitchen."

Kalugin said he believed Russia designed the scandal in order to heighten general fear about Americans inside the country, while stepping up pressure on the US as Moscow and Washington tussle over Syria.

"As Hillary Clinton, the former [US] secretary of state, put it just a few months ago: we are watching the process of re-Sovietisation of Russia," he said. "I think this is precisely what has been happening."

Russian officials, including Putin, have accused the US of fomenting discontent against him in Russia, as well as orchestrating the uprisings around the Middle East.

The spy scandal unfolds as the US and Russia have sought to boost co-operation between their respective security services over the investigation of the Boston Marathon bombing. Yet the two countries remain at odds over Syria.

The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, reiterated on Friday that Russia was delivering its S-300 missiles to Syria, despite US and Israeli attempts to convince Moscow to halt arms shipments to the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

[Source: By Miriam Elder, Moscow, The Guardian, London, 17May13]

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small logoThis document has been published on 21May13 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.