SVR must learn from arrest of 10 agents in US: Medvedev

Russian Prez said that the country`s foreign intelligence service - SVR must draw lessons from the arrest of its 10 agents in the US.

Updated: Nov 12, 2010, 18:14 PM IST

Moscow: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev
on Friday said that the country`s foreign intelligence service -
SVR must draw lessons from the arrest of its 10 agents in the
US last June due to defection by their handler.

Speaking to his pool reporters on the sidelines of the
Seoul G-20 summit, Medvedev said he was aware of the facts
published by leading business daily `Kommersant" yesterday,
which claimed that a Colonel Shcherbakov handling underground
spy network defected to the US with original files of the SVR
agents.

"As for me, the Kommersant publication is no news.
I knew about it the day it happened, in full detail with all
the nuts and bolts. But let the proper investigation must be
completed and proper lessons must be drawn," Medvedev said.

Amid growing demands of the opposition for the
dismissal of SVR Chief Mikhail Fradkov in the wake of
`Kommersant` report about the betrayal of the sleeper cell in
the US, Medvedev said he was not willing to comment on the
outcome of the probe.

"I would not like to comment on this type of
decisions. It is the task of the structures, currently
involved in it (probe)," Medvedev said in his televised
remarks.

Even as the SVR has refused to comment the report
carried by `Kommersant` that a Colonel Shcherbakov of SVR`s
`C` department looking after the undercover spy network in the
US had defected few days before the arrest of 10 people,
including `Bond-girl` Anna Chapman by the FBI in June.

The 10 were exchanged for four Russians serving
sentences for spying in favour of the US and British secret
services in biggest post-Cold War spy swap in July.

The opposition Communist and `A Just Russia` party
lawmakers are demanding Fradkov`s dismissal and a
parliamentary probe into the spy flop.

Deputy Chairman of the Duma Security Committee Gennady
Gudkov, a member of `A Just Russia` party, called for the
creation of a parliamentary commission to probe the damage
caused by Shcherbakov`s defection.

"The service is headed by a man who has nothing to do
with it, and the word `trade` is repeated on his CV several
times," senior Communist MP Ivan Melnikov said referring to
Fradkov`s background as a foreign trade official in the Soviet
era.

According to reports Fradkov, a former prime minister
whom Putin appointed as the SVR`s chief in 2007, played a key
role in negotiations that led to the July 9 spy swap in which
the United States handed over the 10 Russian spies in exchange
for four Russians convicted of spying for US and UK.

Just a day after the members of the sleeper cell were
arrested, the CIA contacted the SVR to float the idea of the
exchange, paving the way for three phone calls between CIA
Director Leon Panetta and Fradkov, the media reported before
the July spy swap.

PTI

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