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    MOSCOW, April 9 (RIA Novosti) - In an interview with RIA Novosti, a high-ranking source in Russia's security services said that Russian agencies had observed a marked increase in US and British intelligence work in Russia.

    "We constantly note attempts by the intelligence services of these countries to secure Russian citizens as sources, or, in professional terms, as agents," the source said.

    "In the last five years, foreign intelligence services have significantly increased their activity in this area," he added.

    According to the source, US intelligence is the most active foreign service working against Russia. The Americans are not only carrying out work within Russia itself, but also from positions in CIS countries and its allies, chiefly Britain.

    "In the early 1990s, the type of missiles the Russian Armed Forces possessed was not a priority issue for the Central Intelligence Agency," the source said. "The most important thing was monitoring the political situation in the Russian Federation and how politics and relations between Russia and the USA developed." "The military aspect was pushed into the background, although issues about the development of our military sector and the Armed Forces have always been a priority for the CIA," he said.

    According to him, in the 1990s, in the aftermath of the Soviet Union's collapse and during the crisis in Russia, politics was the most important issue for the CIA. "The CIA had the task of controlling political events in Russia so that they would take a course that would be advantageous for Washington," the source claimed.

    "In this connection, US intelligence was always interested in the Russian Academy of Sciences' USA and Canada Institute, above all, its activity and staff members," he explained.

    It is no secret, the interviewee continued, that this institute has always been involved in making forecasts about the future of Russia-US relations and gives recommendations to the Russian government about how to develop relations between the two countries.

    When commenting on the recent trial of a staff member of this institute, Igor Sutyagin, the secret services' representative said that the former understood that he was cooperating with representatives of foreign intelligence services under the front of the London-based firm Alternative Futures.

    "He (Sutyagin) is a wonderful analyst, who possessed information about the development of Russia-US relations and also had access to Russian Defense Ministry information," the source said. In his opinion, if Sutyagin's career had developed in a normal fashion, then he might have become a top figure at the institute.

    According to the security services' representative, intelligence officers have to see that a person could become a senior figure in the future. "Recruitment for the future," he said, "this is an axiom for intelligence services all over the world." According to his information, when Russia was only embarking on its new political life in the 1990s, US intelligence was not particularly active with regard to the country, as "everything was clear and understandable for the CIA." He continued in the RIA Novosti interview, "They followed closely the money going to the defense sector and which branches of the defense industry were developing." In short, "The situation was clear and there was no need for any forecasting." In the late 1990s, Russia started to defend its national interests more. "The desire of the US political leadership to know more about the situation in Russia was developing and led to the increase in intelligence work," the source said.

    According to him, foreign intelligence officers work under cover, entering the country as diplomats, embassy secretaries and, unofficially, when they come to Russia as businessmen.

    Fictitious firms are set up for the latter or firms, where intelligence officers are already working. The US uses this form of cover for its officers in three regions: Latin America, Europe and Southeast Asia.

    It is almost impossible to prove the complicity of such firms in espionage, the source said. According to him, this is also true of Alternative Futures, with whom Sutyagin was working.

    The source pointed out that intelligence officer's positions in this firm allowed them to use methods and pose questions to the "environmentalist" Igor Sutyagin. Moreover, the latter immediately received considerable payments even before he provided any information, the source said.

    According to his information, Sutyagin was instructed that every meeting he held with employees of the firm would be held in third countries, but not in Russia or anywhere else in the CIS. Furthermore, the employees of the "firm" told Sutyagin not to phone them from Russia or any CIS country, but to use his mobile after he had crossed the border of a third country. Sutyagin held all these meetings in an air of conspiracy.

    According to the source, the questions Alternative Futures were interested in included the technical features of the new Akula submarine, the project's number, how the submarine differed from previous vessels, the relationship between the defense minister and the chief of the General Staff, the development of digital government communications systems, the lineup and state of Russia's missile warning systems and the technical details of the S-300 anti-aircraft system.

    Furthermore, the employees of this "firm" wanted to know about the following: the elimination of all tank units in the Leningrad military district, the establishment of a fund in Moscow to support the military reform, the Russian Federation's spacecraft (the number of satellites and their orbits), permanent readiness units and where they were based, their composition and status, the Airborne Troops (how many planes and how quickly troops could be moved), the military budget's structure and the development of land hardware systems and much more.

    On April 7, a Moscow district court sentenced Sutyagin to 15 years in prison for state treason in the form of espionage.

    "The case of Igor Sutyagin shows that Russian society is becoming stronger and that any state has interests that it will defend," the source told RIA Novosti.

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