Newspaper reveals name of Russian ‘spy’ expelled from Britain
December 12, 2011 1 Comment
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
In December of 2010, the British government quietly ordered the expulsion of a diplomat from the Russian embassy in London, whom it accused of “activities incompatible with his diplomatic status” —technical terminology implying espionage. Moscow quickly responded with an expulsion of a British diplomat stationed in the Russian capital. The tit-for-tat incident saw no publicity, and neither man was named, as is customary in such cases. But, in its Saturday edition, British newspaper The Daily Telegraph identified the expelled Russian diplomat as Mikhail Viktorovich Repin, Third Secretary in the Political Section at the Russian embassy in London. The paper said that Repin, a fluent English speaker, was a junior officer of the political directorate of the SVR, Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, operating under standard diplomatic cover. Repin arrived in London in late 2007, shortly after the British government expelled four Russian diplomats in connection with the fatal poisoning of former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko, who had defected to Britain. A “tall, suave, urbane young man”, “Michael”, as he identified himself, quickly became a permanent fixture on the embassy reception circuit and the various events hosted by London-based organizations and think tanks. He specifically joined —and regularly attended meetings of— the Royal United Services Institute, the International Institute of Strategic Studies, and Chatham House —formerly known as the Royal Institute of International Affairs. Most people that met him in those gatherings took him for “a fast-track civil servant, defense industry high flier or political adviser”, says The Telegraph. But by 2009, his activities, which centered on identifying potential SVR recruits, had apparently come to the attention of officers from Britain’s counterintelligence agency MI5’s A Branch, tasked with —among other things— monitoring Russian intelligence operations on British soil. Shortly afterwards, Repin was expelled from Britain, and the paper notes that Repin’s whereabouts are “now unknown”. In 2010, MI5’s Director General, Jonathan Evans, claimed during a public speech that Russian intelligence activity on British soil had exceeded Cold War levels, and alleged that up to 50 Russian diplomats stationed in the UK are in fact intelligence officers.