April 4, 2016
Author, political scientist, historian of intelligence services
Translated by Kristina Kharlova
The employee of Vnesheconombank Eugene Buryakov, who worked in New York is now on trial in the US. He was arrested in January on suspicion of espionage in favor of Russia. According to prosecutors, a group of spies was engaged in recruitment and collection of various economic information, including about sanctions against Russia, and Buryakov is an agent of Russian intelligence, working undercover at the bank. Moreover, at a recent court the suspect did not deny his guilt.
Usually our spies never admitted guilt, this is something different. As far as I understand our authorities continue to deny as they always do. It is strange for Buryakov to admit guilt – in fact, he is not facing a death sentence, as Abel. Apparently, our spies reflect the times. We can assume that he will then want to stay in America. Maybe he was presented with some kind of offer. But given that offers were always made to our arrested experts, his behavior is unusual. Especially strange on the background of the release of a film about Abel in a historical perspective: even under a threat of death sentence he behaved differently. This, I think, is the case that forces us to think about what kind of society we live in and used to live in.
Of course, we don’t know what’s happening to him – no details are known; therefore, we cannot draw conclusions. US could have faked the case, but I don’t think he would have confessed, if there was nothing against him. I don’t think that Americans tortured him or used psychotropic substances. This could happen in the Cold war years and it did, but now it is, of course, excluded. With terrorists – yes, but not with respect to such defendants.
Here, of course, the case has to do with what is called economic espionage – it has always been conducted, from the beginning, and even in tsarist times. Economic information was always in the shadow. In the Soviet era, we had the Chamber of Commerce, headed by Primakov, created by one of the closest associates of Beria – General Pitovranov. And financial intelligence is closely intertwined with economic, that’s always been one of the most important tasks of the state. And everything to do with banks, related to finance is always in the shadow. So, naturally, intelligence in this area is doubly in the shadow.
By the way, compared to Americans, as Snowden showed us well, we are like a blind, one-armed cripple on crutches fighting with a strong and healthy boxer. The struggle is unequal, the U.S. is really in control of the entire world, and not only just eavesdropping on terrorist conversations, but they control, primarily, all financial flows. Their intelligence from the very beginning was built as a branch of Wall Street. If you look at who created the CIA – they are the people from Wall street, so, naturally, owing to their habits they always left intelligence for large corporations.
Their intelligence is closely intertwined with financial sector, and in this respect, I think they are no match for the entire world.
The U.S. controls everything not only with military bases, but also this. Moreover, if it were not for Snowden, no one would know it and, by the way, is a very unpleasant fact for us – if not for this one person, then no one would know. And here is the question – why didn’t we know about the things that Snowden voiced? Of course, the experts will say – we knew everything, but if they knew, why didn’t reveal it?
In Soviet times, there were many more spy cases, now it’s rare, but, nevertheless, it happens – about once in three or four years in America such scandals happen. Some of them are very known, such as Chapman and Co, some less known. But every year one or two such cases happen in even very small or less important to us countries, like Spain or Canada.
The current situation in intelligence – is a sign that in 1991 the state collapsed, which was built on a system basis. Don’t like that word, created by our various “political analysts”, but, nevertheless, it is a fact. Today everything is based on manual operation. It’s not even worth comparing.
Now we are on the verge of a hot war – little is said about it, but it is being whispered about. What has changed? At that time we had a powerful counter-propaganda machine – books, articles, newspapers, we had people, experts. Now, if you look at who participates in talk shows – it’s a shame. But they talk a lot about hybrid warfare. Perhaps we are now prepared militarily, perhaps we’re trying to do something in economic terms. But we did not prepare the ideological component. This is an indisputable fact, and this, in my opinion, is the main disadvantage compared with the Soviet Union, when we were prepared for a stand-off as equal. There was a whole system of measures of counter-propaganda, and it was not done by itself, but systematically, at the state level, not by manual control.
And now we have what we have.