A retired senior officer of Soviet and Russian foreign intelligence told RIA Novosti that having an officer handling undercover spies in the United States betraying his network, as the Kommersant daily reported Thursday, is "bad news for the Russian intelligence community."
"It means that things are really bad with the internal security at Yasenevo - they are probably keeping themselves busy with the wrong kind of things," said the source who requested to remain anonymous.
The headquarters of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) is located just outside of Moscow's southern district of Yasenevo.
A spy row between Moscow and Washington broke out in late June when 10 alleged Russian spies were arrested in the United States. The spies were freed in a swap deal between the two countries.
According to a story in the Kommersant, Col. Shcherbakov, who was the chief of an SVR department handling all intelligence sources in the United States, was to blame for the exposure of the Russian intelligence officers working under assumed identities.
The newspaper reported that Shcherbakov's daughter has long been living in the United States but that the SVR was not overly concerned about this.
"Any objective observer would say: How come you have allowed a person who had a daughter abroad to be in such a sensitive position?" the RIA Novosti source said.
The officer also said that having someone like Shcherbakov as a traitor was the worst possible scenario for any intelligence agency because he was a mole at the very core of Russian undercover operations.
Strangely enough, the intelligence service failed to take notice when Shcherbakov refused to accept a career promotion a year before the spy scandal - a procedure that would require him to undergo a lie detector test. This could mean that he actively cooperated with U.S. secret services at the time.
In addition, no one paid attention to the fact that Shcherbakov's son, who had worked for Russia's drug watchdog Gosnarkokontrol, hastily left Russia for the United States shortly before the Russian spies were exposed.
The traitor himself, said a Kommersant source in Russian state power bodies, fled the country three days prior to President Dmitry Medvedev's visit to the United States in June.
The reset of Russian-U.S. relations was threatened following the espionage scandal. However, the two countries pledged the espionage row would not affect bilateral ties.
The SVR has so far refused to comment on the Kommersant report or any other inquiries concerning the betrayal.
MOSCOW, November 11 (RIA Novosti)