Moscow hits back at Berlin over spying allegations

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has said it expects an explanation from Berlin over the “groundless” accusations of industrial espionage on the territory of Germany.

“First of all, we are talking about a standard set of claims against Russian diplomatic missions in Germany, which in the understanding of German counterintelligence services are ‘spy nests’ posing a threat to Germany’s security,” said Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Andrey Nesterenko. “We would hope to get explanations from our partners through diplomatic channels,” he said, the ministry’s webpage quotes.

The 300-page report by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution – Germany’s domestic intelligence agency – was presented last week by Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere. The authors of the document claimed that Russia and China were the leaders in spying on German technology and posed a threat to the country.

Moscow said the report “again abounds in groundless accusations against our country borrowed from the past – as it seemed – Cold Era times.”

All those “passions”, however, would not have deserved any comment, the Foreign Ministry said, if further clarifications by a member of German government had not followed. Moscow referred to Berlin’s allegations that “espionage poses a paramount threat to German’s security, which is even greater than the threat posed by Islamic terrorism or activities of right radical or left extremist organizations.”

“The analysis of the situation and the specter of tasks set by Thomas de Maiziere in the field of Germany’s external and internal security seems to be ambiguous, to say the least,” Nesterenko said. “That is becoming even more obvious on the background of highly developed Russian-German relations and the developing cooperation of the two states in fighting modern and truly realistic threats to security,” the ministry’s representative stressed.

Czechs claim Russian spies “intensified”

Meanwhile, Germany is not the only European country accusing Russians of spying. Last week, Czech counter-intelligence service (BIS) presented its annual report for 2009 which states that Russian secret services intensified their activities in the republic.

“Activities of Russian intelligence services (IS) were, like in previous years, the top priority of the Security Information Service in 2009. The reasons for the dominant focus are very simple. In terms of coverage, intensity, aggressive nature and quantity of operations, the Russian intelligence services have no rivals in the territory of the Czech Republic,” the report reads as published on the service’s official webpage.

Much like the Germans, the Czechs are especially worried over Russian alleged activities in the field of industry.

“There has been an increase of intelligence capacities and intensity of intelligence operations in the Czech Republic, particularly in the field of research and development and in the economy (including the power generation and distribution industry),” BIS claims.

The body says that activities of Russian intelligence services “can be viewed as being quite intensive and often contradictory, some of them even hostile, to the interests of the Czech Republic.”

Moscow has not commented on the statements.