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Putin Claims Hundreds Of Spies Thwarted


(RFE/RL) — President Vladimir Putin has claimed that Russia thwarted nearly 500 spies in 2017, and urged the Federal Security Service (FSB) to step up cybersecurity efforts and strengthen measures to protect secret communications.

Putin spoke to senior FSB officials at a meeting on March 5, less than two weeks ahead of an election that appears certain to hand him a new six-year term.

His remarks came amid acrimony between Moscow and many Western countries over what the United States and others say are Russian efforts to use cyberattacks as one of several tools to sow discord and interfere in elections abroad.

“In recent years, as you know very well, there has been an increase in foreign intelligence agency activity,” said Putin, who critics accuse of using government meetings to campaign ahead of the March 18 vote.

“They are working diligently on Russia, using the most modern methods, spy craft, and technical espionage means,” he said, adding that “last year alone, the activities of 72 career intelligence officers and 397 agents of foreign spy services were thwarted.”

Speaking at a separate meeting on March 5, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov repeated Russian accusations that the United States was seeking to meddle in the Russian election.

Ryabkov asserted that the United States was using “totally biased and baseless” allegations of Russian meddling as a pretext to interfere in the Russian vote. The United States denies it has done so.

Protection Against ‘Radicalism’

In his comments, Putin said that “Russia’s information space must be protected from modern cyberthreats,” Russian news agencies reported.”

“It is necessary to improve the state system for detecting, preventing, and dealing with the aftermath of computer attacks against Russia’s information resources,” he said.

The FSB must “increase the reliability of confidential communication networks in bodies of public authority and defense and security structures,” Putin said.

Putin, a former Soviet KGB officer who headed the FSB during his rise to power, has brought many people with similar backgrounds into high-level positions.

He has frequently portrayed Russia as a country encircled by Western adversaries bent on weakening it, undermining its sovereignty, and setting some of its citizens against the government.

At the FSB meeting, he said that young Russians must be protected from “radicalism” of all kinds, a remark that critics are likely to interpret as aimed at least in part against political foes.

“It’s necessary to protect people, but primarily young people, from those trying to infect society with aggression and intolerance, xenophobia, and nationalism,” Putin said.

“Whatever its political and ideological tinge might be, radicalism is destructive in its essence, and we have to safeguard the country and the people’s future from this threat,” he said.

Russian officials have portrayed Aleksei Navalny, a prominent opposition leader who has been barred from the ballot because of a criminal conviction he contends was engineered by the Kremlin, as a radical.

Putin’s popularity, his control over the levers of power, and what critics say have been years of steps to suppress dissent and marginalize opponents virtually ensure his victory in the election.



RFE/RL journalists report the news in 21 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.

3 thoughts on “Putin Claims Hundreds Of Spies Thwarted

  • March 6, 2018 at 11:46 am

    CIA/Mossad.They do have an extensive history

  • March 8, 2018 at 3:29 pm

    Sad that western journalists cannot talk about Russia or Putin without vilifying either.

    Navalny is not a prominent candidate. He is unfit as Russian president. In the west he would be considered a flake. He wants to make waves accusing the Russian government, especially Putin’s government, of corruption, forgetting or ignoring the history of what produced the corruption: the USA with its forced privatization that gave the Soviet state assets away for peanuts to wealthy individuals who then milked the state further to pay for the assets. Yeltsin and his family and clan upfront. Some other families also have their hands in the corruption. It is Putin’s merit that he is completely non-corrupt. Far from western vilification, he lives a relatively modest life. Doesn’t vacation in or own any villas in the west and instead spends his few vacation days in the Taiga, in Tufa and other Russian regions. Putin is entirely loyal to Russia.

    With his new weapons, Russia is on par with the US again and retook its position as a world power. It is no longer the US who defends allies. It is Russia. The US missile defense systems are useless against the newest Russian weapons. With such outstanding farsightedness as to develop these weapons, Putin saved the peace in the world. WW3 moved into the distance. North Korea and Iran will be defended by Russia and China. Which upends the US’s policies of ultimatums and threats. Any attack on Russia or China will result in attack on the US homeland that the US cannot prevent.

    And you wonder why Putin will be re-elected? Why would anybody want to vote for an empty-headed flake like Navalny who knows nothing about politics and has no loyalty to Russia: he was used by the CIA via Browder to disrupt the financial flows of the Russian economy and participated in acquiring shares of Gazprom illegally for Browder. That makes him a traitor. In addition, he was twice convicted for fraud himself which is why he cannot run for president: he has still unfinished convictions of probation, which appears to work somewhat differently in Russia from what the term means in the US. Those trials weren’t political, they were criminal, substantive and justified.

    That it outmaneuvered him from politics – well, if he is such a great candidate, why didn’t he prevent being outmaneuvered by not acting corrupt?

  • March 8, 2018 at 3:31 pm

    There is more freedom of the press in Russia than there is currently in the USA. Maybe these journalists could dig a bit deeper into the US realities as opposed to the lies the MSM in the US spreads.


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