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Germany arrests couple of suspected Russian spies

October 24, 2011, 13:23 UTC+3
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For the first time after Germany’ unification the country’s authorities have arrested a Russian couple, who were identified as Heidrun A. and Andreas A., suspected of espionage. It allegedly has been spying for Russia’s secret services for more than 20 years.

Kommersant with reference to Der Spiegel and Focus reported that the couple has been residing in Germany with Austrian passports for over 20 years. Until the accusations are proved, German mass media has no right to disclose the suspects’ last name. The daily found out that the last name of the two arrested is Anschlag. They resided in a private house in a calm and respectful district in Michelbach near Marburg. According to the information leaked to German media, the couple moved to Germany from Mexico back in 1990 fulfilling Moscow’s task.

The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution arrested the couple following a tip from the FBI who had uncovered a ring of Russian spies in the U.S. in 2010, Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote. German investigators seek no analogues that the couple and some of ten Russian intelligence officers arrested in the U.S. are of Latin American origin, but they evidently track certain interrelation with a member of the Russian spy ring Anna Chapman, well known in Russia and the West. For instance, another German magazine, Focus, reported that as Heidrun A. and Andreas A. “evidently maintained intensive contacts with former Russian spy Anna Chapman.” “Chapman and the couple regularly used one and the same short-wave radios.”

If accusations in relation to Russia are proved, this may aggravate Russian-German relations, the Novye Izvestiya daily supposed. If it turns out that the whole story is not a journalists’ hoax, but a real espionage row.

Rossiyskaya Gazeta published an interview with German political scientist Alexander Rahr, who expressed bewilderment over the espionage story. “It’s absolutely unclear what spying activities the arrested couple can conduct in a provincial town. The place where they lived had no defence plants, no NATO facilities, no missile bases, no influential political institutions. Generally speaking, this is the town of students, which has universities and some research institutions related to them, that’s all. There is no one to recruit. The arrested had not conducted and could not conduct any spying operations,” he said.

“It’s quite possible that the German secret services simply did not like the fact of even theoretical spies’ presence on the territory of Germany. Therefore the arrest took place,” the expert said.

Rahr expressed confidence that this incident will exert absolutely no effect on relations between Berlin and Moscow. “Germany is very satisfied with the state of relations with Russia, first of all as concerns economy. Nobody will spoil them. The pseudo-espionage story itself is marginal. Germany paid no special attention to it, there were no rush. It just passed along with other news lines,” he said. 

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