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Spy detected - FSB nabs Chinese spook

Russia's security services have reported detaining a suspected Chinese spy, who has been accused of trying to obtain top-secret material on Russia’s S-300 anti-aircraft missile system.

­Though Chinese citizen Tun Sheniyun has been in custody since October 28, 2010, the information on his arrest has only been made public by the FSB almost a year later, after his case was directed to the Moscow City Court.

Sheniyun worked as a translator for Chinese official delegations, while his suspected real objectives were to obtain technological and repair documentation on the S-300 through bribes.

Developed in the late 1970s by Soviet military constructors, the S-300 system is still regarded as one of the most potent anti-aircraft missile systems and used for protection of major industrial and administrative structures. With the ability to track down up to a hundred enemy targets, it has deployment time of less than five minutes. However, Russian armed forces started using newer S-400 missile systems in 2004.

The presumed clients interested in intelligence on the S-300 are China’s Ministry of State Security. They have attempted to seize control of Russian military technology in order to create their own copies for years now. In the most recent development in June, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army admitted building an aircraft carrier based on the half-built Soviet warship Varyag they bought from Ukraine.

Russia has been selling limited versions of S-300 systems to China since 1993, and has licensed China's local manufacturing allowing it to start the production of Hongqi anti-aircraft missile systems that are largely similar to S-300, but with some key characteristics lower than those of the Russian one.

The news of Sheniyun’s arrest comes, as Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is preparing to visit China early next week in an effort to boost strategic co-operation between the two countries.