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24 Sep, 2018 21:04

‘Spy mania’: Moscow summons Norwegian envoy over ‘absurd’ detention of Russian man

‘Spy mania’: Moscow summons Norwegian envoy over ‘absurd’ detention of Russian man

Moscow has lodged a “strong protest” with Norway after the arrest of a Russian Senate employee who took part in a parliamentary event in Oslo. The “absurd” spy charges are part of the West’s “spy mania,” the Foreign Ministry said.

The ministry has demanded an explanation from the Norwegian ambassador Rune Resaland over the arrest of the man identified as M. Bochkarev at Oslo airport. Moscow wants the “absurd” and “fictitious spy charges” against the man to be dropped and that he be released “immediately.”

Bochkarev travelled to Norway to take part in an international seminar held in the Norwegian parliament on September 20-21. The man, who works in the Central Office of the Russian Senate, was invited to the event by the European Center for Parliamentary Research and Documentation, the ministry’s statement says, adding that the event was public and was attended by “parliamentary representatives from a dozen countries.”

“It is incomprehensible why the presence of a Russian representative at the seminar has led to such provocation,” the ministry said, adding that a “wave of spy hysteria” that has recently engulfed the West had taken a particularly “despicable form” in Norway. It also said that Oslo’s move would not be “left unanswered.”

Norway then rushed to explain that the arrest of the Russian man accused of “gathering some data” has nothing to do with politics and is treated as a criminal case. “This is not a political issue,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg told the Norwegian NTB news agency.

Several western countries have, indeed, gone on an apparent spy hunt, with mainstream media at times dominated by headlines on alleged “Russian agents.” Swiss and Dutch newspapers reported mid-September that the two countries carried out a joint operation with the UK, resulting in the Netherlands expelling two suspected Russian spies in March. This was later confirmed by Switzerland’s intelligence agency, which claimed it had foiled “a Russian plot,” targeting a Swiss laboratory which tests nerve agents such as Novichok.

The details provided by the western media and officials were so scant that it prompted the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to call on them to “present some facts” first, so that Moscow could respond to these allegations.

Meanwhile, the British authorities tirelessly accuse Moscow of being behind the poisoning of the former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter. Most recently, London presented the CCTV footage of two men it claimed were agents of the Russian military intelligence, the GRU, and accused the two of poisoning the Skripals.

The men, identified as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, gave an interview to RT’s editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan, where they said they claimed to be businessmen and tourists that got wrongly accused by the UK. Their explanation, however, appeared to be not convincing enough for London, which immediately rushed to denounce it as a blow to the “public’s intelligence.”

Meanwhile, across the pond, the US authorities are still looking for proof of Russia’s alleged interference in the US 2016 elections but have failed to find any so far. As part of the Russiagate scandal sweeping the US, a Russian gun rights activist, Maria Butina, got arrested. Butina, who has been accused of being an unregistered Russian lobbyist and basically a Russian agent, has been kept in prison for more than two months without any solid evidence of her guilt being presented.

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