December 15, 2002 - Associated Press: KGB Chief says Peace Corps Volunteers involved in suspicious activities

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2002: 12 December 2002 Peace Corps Headlines: December 15, 2002 - Associated Press: KGB Chief says Peace Corps Volunteers involved in suspicious activities

By Admin1 (admin) on Sunday, December 15, 2002 - 5:58 pm: Edit Post

KGB Chief says Peace Corps Volunteers involved in suspicious activities

Read and comment on this story from the Associated Press. The previous story we posted came from the Russia Journal and carried their headline: "FSB chief accuses Peace Corps workers of spying." This story says that he "did not directly accuse the volunteers of being spies but said they were involved in suspicious activities."

This is the latest episode in the ongoing controversy between the United States and Russia over the continued presence of Peace Corps Volunteers in Russia. Earlier this year, the Russian government refused to extend the visas of 30 of the 64 Peace Corps workers already in the country. At the time, the Russian government gave no explanation. RPCVs have speculated that Russia is using the Peace Corps to signal its displeasure with other US government policies.

For the record, there is no evidence of intelligence gathering by the Peace Corps or by Peace Corps Volunteers over the agency's 40 year history.

Read the story at:

Russian Official: Peace Corps Suspicious*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

Russian Official: Peace Corps Suspicious

Russian Official Suggests Peace Corps Members Lost Visas Because They Were Suspected of Spying

The Associated Press

MOSCOW Dec. 15

The head of Russia's security service suggested Sunday that U.S. Peace Corps volunteers who were forced to leave the country earlier this year had been spying, accusing them of trying to collect information on government officials and on the country's politics and economy.

Peace Corps officials said in August that the Russian government had refused to extend the visas of 30 volunteers already in the country and planning to stay.

The government offered no explanation at the time, but Nikolai Patrushev, head of the Federal Security Service, addressed the issue in a wide-ranging interview. He did not directly accuse the volunteers of being spies but said they were involved in suspicious activities.

"Some of them were engaged in collecting information about the sociopolitical and economic situation in Russian regions, about government employees and administrators and the course of elections," Patrushev was quoted as saying in the interview with state-controlled television and Russian news agencies.

Peace Corps officials in Moscow could not immediately be reached for comment.

Despite the end of the Cold War and the general warming of relations between Russia and the West, the espionage trade remains alive and well with Russia and the United States frequently trading accusations of spying.

After Russia refused to extend visas for the Peace Corps volunteers, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell tried to intervene, but Russian officials refused to back down.

Patrushev said that the Peace Corps still has about 200 volunteers working in nearly 30 Russian regions.

The security service, known by its Russian acronym FSB, is the main successor to the Soviet-era KGB.

Separately, Patrushev expressed concerns about Turkish extremist sects operating in Russia and trying to gain information about the situation in the North Caucasus, where Russian troops are engaged in the second war in a decade with Chechen separatists. He said the alleged sect, Nurcular, set up companies called Serhat and Eflyak to "tackle a broad range of talks in the interests of the intelligence services."

"It conducted pan-Turkic and pan-Islamic brainwashing of Russian teenagers, (and) carried out propaganda actions," the ITAR-Tass news agency quoted Patrushev as saying.

The FSB blocked the activities of more than 50 of the alleged sect's members in mainly Muslim regions of Russia in the last year, Patrushev said.

Patrushev said cooperation with Western security agencies had resulted in the detention in June of Egyptian citizen Abdullah Abdel Hamid Abdel Basit Mahmud, whom he called "the emissary of Middle Eastern extremist organizations in Russia," according to ITAR-Tass. He also said Russia detained a member of the group Hizb-ut-Tahrir, a secretive organization that aims to create an Islamic state in Central Asia, on charges of forming an illegal armed group and extradited him to Uzbekistan in April.

He also revealed more details about previous accusations of spying involving the United States, including an alleged attempt by Americans using drugged cookies and drinks to recruit a Russian defense employee as an agent in 2001.

The effort backfired and the Russian security service identified the defense worker's contact at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow as Yunju Kensinger, a third secretary in the embassy's consular department.

Patrushev said that Kensinger was expelled from the country and two Russian citizens were arrested. U.S. officials have refused to comment on the allegations.

"We prevented a heavy blow from being delivered to Russia's defense capabilities and security," Patrushev was quoted as saying.

Patrushev also hailed the conviction of businessman Viktor Kalyadin, who was found guilty this summer of providing military information to the United States. Patrushev said Kalyadin was allegedly trying to collect information about Russian defense priorities, Interfax said.

In a separate incident, an Azerbaijani officer assigned to maintain contacts with the militaries of former Soviet states was apprehended with documents that "represented a state secret," Patrushev said. He identified the officer as Maj. Gen. Rasulov. He has been barred from entering the country for five years.

Copyright 2002 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Background on the Peace Corps in Russia

The Washington Post reported on August 12 that the Russian government had "moved to kick out dozens of Peace Corps workers in a decision that could severely hinder the program's operations here and prevent new volunteers from coming."

The Associated Press reported on August 13 that the US Peace Corps "has canceled plans to send a new batch of volunteers to Russia this year, because the government is refusing, without explanation, to issue visas."

Read PCOL's ongoing coverage of the Peace Corps in Russia at:

Will the Peace Corps be leaving Russia?

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