Date: 23 November 2018
FSB spying on the Russian journalists abroad
The Swedish international cooperation agency (SIDO) since 2002 has financed the SCOOP workshops for the Russian journalists from Russia. The workshops include training in investigative journalism. Organisers have suspected for many years that the Russian secret services have been interested in the programme. Swedish journalists from Dagens Nyheter found out that the last year course was in fact participated by the journalists connected with the Russian services.
SCOOP workshops are financed and organised by the Swedish government agency SIDO subordinate to the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They aim to the exchange knowledge and tools between investigative journalists from Northern Europe and their Russian colleagues connected with the opposition media.
A 50-year-old journalist from Karelia Alexey Vladimirov was one of the participants of the course which was held in spring 2017. In the past, he was connected with secret service activities. According to information gathered by the journalist, Mattias Carlsson from the Swedish Dagens Nyheter journal, the participation of Vladimirov in the workshops was an element of the Russian intelligence activity in Sweden. The Swedish journalist claims that Vladimirov was trained by FSB before the Swedish workshops. His aim was to observe the Russian participants. He was supposed to make long-lasting friendships with other 15 participants. They were mainly journalists with critical views on the Russian authorities or conducted journalist investigations connected with the abuse of power in Russia.
Organisers of the SCOOP workshops claim that this is not the first time when the Russian secret services try to infiltrate the course. The Vladimirov’s application was not probably very different from the others and met the formal requirements. However, he did not provide information in his application form about his experience gained in the army and in secret services.
The journalist from Karelia asked both by the Russian and Swedish media (Dagens Nyheter and Fontanka.ru) denied his connections with FSB. One can assume that the information revealed by the Swedish press is real. It points to the interest in the Russian journalists or social activists operating partly in the West. The issues concerning the knowledge and skills developed during the workshops are rather secondary. The activity of Vladimirov shows that the control over the journalists who are sceptical about the Kremlin is more important. Even if Vladimirov’s aim was not to establish relations allowing for the control over the published content, it was at least to find out in advance what they are working on.
The work of journalists who reveal secrets of elites connected with the Kremlin damages the reputation of the Russian authorities. The reveal of hidden properties belonging to the PM Dmitry Medvedev by the opposition activist Alexei Navalny is worth recalling. The information campaign concerning corruption within the Russian authorities conducted by Navalny resulted in protests of thousands of Russians.
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