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Russian presidential aide’s deputy ‘with Polish passport, spy gear’ arrested for treason

Russian presidential aide’s deputy ‘with Polish passport, spy gear’ arrested for treason
A deputy to the Russian president’s representative in the Urals has appeared in court accused of state treason, with one source claiming he spied for Polish intelligence and another saying he had spy gear.

Aleksandr Vorobyov was arrested by the Federal Security Service (FSB) on Thursday. The agency said he is suspected of treason, but offered no further details. On Friday, the man arrived at a Moscow court wearing a balaclava. Despite his face being covered his identity was revealed before the court.

The 39-year-old was named as a deputy to Nikolay Tsukanov who serves as the presidential representative in the Urals Federal District. A federal district is a collection of several geographically and culturally close federal subjects of Russia, in which a representative acts on behalf of the central government. There are only eight federal districts in Russia, so becoming deputy to a presidential representative places a person close to the higher echelons of power.

The court session was held behind closed doors at the request of both the prosecution and defense, so the details of the case remain unknown to the public. Vorobyov was ordered to be kept in custody for two months, but his lawyer said he will appeal the decision, calling it unlawful and baseless.

Newspaper Vedomosti said a source called Vorobyov “the highest-ranking civilian official arrested for treason in at least a decade”. The source said the official may have been recruited by Polish intelligence a few years ago.

The newspaper Vzglyad said that, according to its source, Vorobyov had a Polish passport and spy equipment on him when he was arrested.

Vorobyov’s official bio says was appointed chief of staff to Tsukanov in January 2018, when the latter served as an aide to President Vladimir Putin. When Tsukanov got his job as a representative in the Urals, Vorobyov followed his boss as his deputy.

Tsukanov served as governor of the Kaliningrad region between 2010 and 2016, about the same years when Vorobyov served in the region’s government.

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