06012020What's Hot:

Poisoned Russian Ex-Spy Is Said to Have Worked With Spanish Intelligence

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Spain has been a haven for Russian crime bosses and corrupt officials fond of Lamborghinis and sprawling villas on the Costa del Sol. Some are believed to have ties to the Kremlin.

Mr. Skripal’s continued visits to Spain were confirmed by a current senior official, who would not provide additional details. But former officials said that Mr. Skripal would have been especially useful in crackdowns on Russian organized crime.

“From the beginning we had a big problem,” said a retired Spanish police chief, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential investigations. “We ignored the Russian phenomenon and its organized crime. We didn’t know how they operated.”

“Skripal, Litvinenko,” he said, “they gave a more accurate idea of the reality.”

Spanish prosecutors and police investigators have acknowledged working with Mr. Litvinenko, an expert in Russian organized crime who fled to England after publicly falling out with Vladimir V. Putin when he was director of the Federal Security Service.

At the British inquest into Mr. Litvinenko’s death, his family’s lawyer claimed that he was also a paid agent of the Spanish intelligence agency and had planned to travel to Spain to hand over evidence about possible links between the Kremlin and Russian organized crime figures. He was killed before he could make the trip.

Officials would not say whether Mr. Skripal was involved in similar work, or, as in Estonia and the Czech Republic, was simply giving lectures to Spanish spies. Such visits would not have been illegal, nor are they uncommon for former spies trying to remain useful.

Mr. Skripal’s Russian colleagues, though, might have viewed things differently.

Aleksandr Gusak, a retired Federal Security Service colonel, has spent a lot of time thinking about traitors. He was Mr. Litvinenko’s superior officer at the time he defected to Britain. Russians, he said, had a kind of genetic antipathy toward traitors, though he added that if he had carried out the attack on Mr. Skripal he would have used “a sword rather than a spray.”

“I was raised on Soviet ideas,” Mr. Gusak said. “For me, a traitor, you spit on them, grab them and shoot them. Or hang them and piss on their grave.”

Source: NYT > World

comments powered by HyperComments

More on the topic