On Thursday, a court in Russia convicted a former policeman of selling state secrets to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for three years. Yevgeny Chistov, a former employee of the interior ministry’s Moscow region branch, was sentenced to 13 years in high-security prison. Russia’s FSB security service said in a statement that Chistov had pleaded guilty to the charges of high treason during court hearings.
Russia has charged several people with espionage
FSB said Chistov had established contact with the CIA in 2011 while serving at the Russian interior ministry. He acted out of “selfish motives,” passing along state secrets from the Ministry of Internal Affairs to the US intelligence agency. In exchange for the information, he received monetary reward over the course of three years. The CIA declined to comment on the issue.
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Since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis in 2014, Russia has charged many people with espionage, high treason or disclosing state secrets. In October, a Russian court sentenced a man to 12 years in prison for spying for Ukraine. In September, an ex-military intelligence engineer was jailed for 14 years for passing on state secrets to Sweden by sending his resume to a Swedish organization.
It is reminiscent of Cold War-era spying
The conviction comes as relations between the US and Russia have reached the lowest level since the end of the Cold War. Western countries imposed sanctions and stepped up military presence along the Russian border following Moscow’s annexation of Crimea last year. Russia’s foray into Syria to protect the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad has further strained the relationship. CIA was actively training rebels in Syria to bring down the Assad regime.
The stories of espionage and treason were abundant during the Cold War as the United States and erstwhile Soviet Union aggressively used their spy networks to gain an edge over the other. Their Cold War-style spying activities seem to have intensified following Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its involvement in the eastern Ukraine.