Spying in Klaipeda
It seems that barely a week goes by in the Baltics recently without a story circulating about Russian or Belarusian spooks. Last month, Lithuania’s State Security Department, the VSD, released its annual threat assessment for the year 2014.
The assessment did not put many fears of Russian espionage to rest: the report states that last year three intelligence agents were outed as spies and expelled from Lithuania on the charges that they were gathering intelligence — all under the guise of being regular diplomats. Among them was Russia’s Consul-General in Klaipeda, Vladimir Malygin. Klaipeda has become a strategically important site, as it is the home of the recently launched LNG Gas terminal Independence, which reduces Lithuania’s dependence on Russian gas.
According to the head of the VSD, Gediminas Grina, it is not the activity itself that is the main cause for concern, but rather the possibly purposeful policies of the Kremlin behind them.
According to Grina, even if one person is expelled from Lithuania, another will arrive and will be involved in the same activities. As a result, Lithuania will have to observe their activities and spend budget resources which are not necessarily sufficient.
Chairman of the Seimas National Security and Defence Committee, Arturas Paulauskas, said that foreign intelligence is interested in energy projects and the country’s political life, whereas the Kremlin is creating a favourable social environment for itself, using social websites and media to achieve this goal.