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3/23/15

Czech Republic: Russian Spying in Czech Republic ‘Worse Than Cold War’ - by Damien Sharkov

Prague has become a major target for Russian and Chinese spies attempting to gain access to NATO intelligence and leverage the Czech Republic’s status as an EU member state, according to a former head of the Czech military intelligence.

After reports emerged in the Czech press that three suspected Russian spies were asked to quietly leave Prague, the Czech government has struggled to play down the incident as rumours of its longstanding problem with Russian intelligence have begun resurfacing once again.

To complicate matters further, all three alleged spies had diplomatic ties with Russian foreign missions, one of them being a full time employee Prague embassy, according to Czech magazine Respekt, forcing Prague to refuse to either confirm or deny the truth of the reports.

Prague has become a major target for Russian and Chinese spies attempting to gain access to NATO intelligence and leverage the Czech Republic’s status as an EU member state, according to a former head of the Czech military intelligence.

After reports emerged in the Czech press that three suspected Russian spies were asked to quietly leave Prague, the Czech government has struggled to play down the incident as rumours of its longstanding problem with Russian intelligence have begun resurfacing once again.''

To complicate matters further, all three alleged spies had diplomatic ties with Russian foreign missions, one of them being a full time employee Prague embassy, according to Czech magazine Respekt, forcing Prague to refuse to either confirm or deny the truth of the reports.
 
General Andor Šándor, the former head of Czech military intelligence who retired from the service in 2002, says that regardless of the details surrounding this latest bust up between Czech and Russian intelligence, Prague’s Russian spy scandal is far from an isolated incident.

“We have had this issue for some time,” says the general, who served in the intelligence services before and after the break-up of the former Czechoslovakia. “No doubt it is much worse now than during the Cold War because then, the Russians would not spy on us and the Germans and the US pulled back their spies.”

“But now the major intelligence force against our country is posed by the Russians and the Chinese,” General Šándor says, adding that since the start of the Ukraine conflict last year, Russia has “definitely” increased its spies in the Czech Republic.

The Czech Security Information Service (BIS) has warned that since the start of the Ukraine crisis Russia has sent an “extremely high” number of spies, as General Šándor believes Moscow takes a particular interest in Czech energy reserves, its access to NATO information and its leverage as an EU member. 

“We used to be in their sphere of interest and they still see our country as the one that can be their springboard to to EU and NATO,” Šándor says.
  

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