Russia preparing Lithuanian offensive - claim

  • 2008-01-02
  • In cooperation with BNS

HIT LIST: Russia will attempt to undermine Landsbergis' reputation, says a Lithuanian newspaper

KAUNAS -- The security services of the Baltic states are among themost active in anti-Russian espionage, according to remarks attributed toNikolai Patrushev, director of Russia'sFederal Security Service (FSB).

Lithuanian newspaper Kauno Diena claims ina Dec. 29 report that the country could face a Russian backlash as a result ofits perceived status as a centre of "anti-Russian extremism."

Two weeks ago, Baltic special services with Lithuania among them, received special attention from Patrushev during apress conference.

"In 2007 secret services of foreign countries,especially those of the Baltic states, have become more active," Patrushev was quoted as tellingjournalists.

The newspaper's sources in Russiasay that the idea of Lithuania becoming one of the main players in the world of espionage isbecoming more prevalent at FSB headquarters.

"The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and thesecret services have it thatVilniusis becoming the 'outpost number 2 of anti-Russian extremism' after London", anunnamed high-ranking Kremlin official told the daily.

Kauno Diena saysRussia is certain that Lithuania's authorities and secret services areencouraging the activity of anti-Russian groups and actively collaborates withthe secret services of the US and Great Britain.

Lithuania's Ministry of Foreign Affairs is also receiving signals that theKremlin is becoming increasingly suspicious of Lithuania.

"They are convinced in Moscow that Lithuania is the largest and one of the most active diasporas of Chechens.The secret services are emphasizing in their reports that Lithuanianauthorities do not interfere with the activity of 'extremist groups' and arriveat a conclusion that it is in fact the opposite case scenario - such activityis promoted. Moreover, the reports in question state the groups of 'Chechenextremists' are actively collaborating with Lithuania's secret services," according to "well-informedindividuals".

Russia's Foreign Intelligence Services (SVR) has drawn attention to the factthat the family of the late Chechen President Dzohar Dudajev found refuge in Lithuania. In the opinion of the SVR, Dudajev's sons could form a futurerallying point for Chechen nationalists in their attempt to win independencefrom Russia.

Reportedly, Moscow also suspects that fugitive Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky hasalso become more active in Lithuania. Berezovsky was a former power-broker of Russian politics duringthe Yeltsin era but fled to London in 2001 and is wanted by the Russian authorities. Berezovsky hasbeen among those blaming the murder of his friend, former FSB officer AlexanderLitvinenko, on the Russian authorities.

The paper's sources say that Russia'ssecret services are also preparing an attempt to undermine the reputation ofEuro MP Vytautas Landsbergis, who still commands considerable influence andrespect in Lithuania a decade and a half after fronting Lithuania'sindependence movement.