Your spy fix for the week

Just when I hoped it was over, the scandal returns with the detainment of the 12th spy in the US.

The 23-year-old’s name is as yet unknown and, though his American visa was nullified on June 26 (one day before the arrest of the others), he was not charged with anything. This, I’m thinking, may be a nod to Moscow that this is will not spin into a sequel of Chapmangate.

In the meantime, here’s what the rest are up to:

Igor Sutyagin, the weapons researcher accused of spying for the US and handed over by the Russians on Friday, is patiently waiting in the boonies of England for a residency permit which is apparently on its way. The essentially irrelevant liberal Russian opposition party Yabloko has invited Sutyagin to join its ranks, but said his application would be examined the same as anyone else’s. Heads were scratched.

One of the Russians swapped to America is said to be coming back to Russia, which Russia has not forbidden, because he has a country house up in the Tver region.

The Illegals, meanwhile, are hanging out in Yasenevo, on the southwestern outskirts of Moscow, where the SVR has a compound. They are not allowed to leave the territory — though family is allowed to visit — while they spend the next couple of weeks being grilled by SVR officers on how they fucked up so badly. “Treachery,” writes Moskovsky Komsomolets, which first reported the story, “is not out of the question.”

According to Interfax, the Illegals will be swallowed up by the witness protection program, which will change their names.

It is unclear, however, if Anna “Of Disputed Hotness” Chapman (above) will participate. There are reports that she is answering emails and phone calls, and is even willing to talk to reporters — for a fee. (This, of course, would be in violation of the deal struck with the Americans that bars her from profiting from her story.) Britain has revoked her citizenship, foiling her plans to pick where she left off in London.

Meanwhile, in her hometown of Volgograd, she is a hero. There is already talk of putting her on the ballot for the State Duma and the town has announced a contest to write a song in her honor.

This entry was posted in strange, Uncategorized, world and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Your spy fix for the week

  1. Mark Adomanis says:


    I know that I’m not as keyed in to Russian liberalism as you are, but why, for the love of God, would Yabloko invite someone like Sutyagin, who is widely perceived to be a traitor, to join its ranks? Isn’t that insane? Do they really think that the mass of the Russian public will look at this episode and think “you know what, we ought to vote for the liberals: they want the Americans to spy on us!”

    Is there something I’m missing here? Isn’t this one of the more remarkable examples of political tone-deafness that you can possibly imagine? What’s next, offering Doku Umarov a spot on Yabloko’s candidate list?

    • Julia Ioffe says:

      I can’t tell if that’s weirder than them asking him publicly…to submit an application. “We’ll let you know.” It reminds of me of those scenes in “The Life of Brian” where the People’s Front of Judea or the Judean Popular People’s Front sits around and drafts odd resolutions. Which gives me an idea: maybe John Cleese should join Yabloko, too?

    • Philipp Churilov says:

      Sutyagin was fiercely defended by “midfielders of human rights” as a victim of Sistema and an example of opressiveness of Regim.

      Now it turned out he really was a spy. Hard to keep a straight face in that situation, so Yabloko could just go “ah, what the hell, we’ve already screwed up so let’s be consistent at least in that”.

      • Julia Ioffe says:

        I don’t think it’s at all clear that Sutyagin was a spy. He had to sign an admission of guilt to get the Presidential pardon, but maintains his innocence.

      • For what my opinion is worth (which is probably very little), I suspect that Igor Sutyagin did pass on Russian secrets, but likely inadvertently. The company employing him, Alternative Futures, was murky and vanished soon after his arrest; bets on it being an MI6/CIA front? Sucks for Sutyagin, but probably should have exercised greater circumspection in a state so excised on its national security.

      • Philipp Churilov says:

        Yeah, so, like, USA decided to bargain his release because of, ehm, democratic values and overall humanism?

        Not that I’m going to believe it.

      • kovane says:

        Philipp, I’m utterly amazed at your ignorance. How can you say such horrible things about Mr Sutyagin? The Economist clearly said that civilized states, like the USA and the UK, don’t employ spies. And yet you continue to cast aspersions on the obviously innocent man. Shame on you, imperial chauvinist!

  2. Did anyone honestly expect Anna Chapman (or the others) to hold to their non-profiting plea bargain? They are safely beyond American jurisdiction; in any case, she can always claim the money is for a charity that conveniently happens to be a Swiss bank account. In any case that’s what I’d be doing in her shoes.

  3. yalensis says:

    Everyone who thinks that Yabloko is crazy should also check out Novodvorskaya’s interview on the subject of Sutyagin’s release. I sat and watched the whole painful thing on a Russian website a couple of days ago, but now, dammit, I can’t find the link any more. Anyhow, Novodvorskaya basically claimed that (a) Sutyagin is innocent, but that (b) IF he IS guilty, then more power to him, because (c) if she had half a chance she’d spy for the CIA and MI-5 herself, if that would help to bring down the “criminal” Putin regime. Sounds like a great campaign slogan: “Vote for me, I’ll commit treason!” What is it about Russia that produces these dissident nut-cases? I guess it goes back to the era of the Old Believers…. people who would stubbornly and courageously give up their lives for a ridiculous idea.

  4. yalensis says:

    Is Adomanis back from vacation? Yay!

  5. markchapman says:

    I think most attractive women can have their hotness called into dispute by a photograph in which they look considerably less than their best, such as the one shown here. I’ve seen photos in which Ms. Chapman (no relation) looks quite the heartbreaker. Oddly enough, most of them were posted by men, or by a news medium that did not identify who posted it. You could make a reasonable case for suggesting men have a vested interest in making her look more attractive than she actually is, while women have a vested interest in making her appear less so. I don’t know why; it’s just one of those things.

    Anyway, countries that quietly consider themselves to have a pretty solid intelligence/counterintelligence capability would be reluctant to claim this hapless gaggle. These people were more lobbyists than spies. This might lead people to draw the conclusion that Russia does not have a credible espionage capability. That’d be a mistake.

    Its best operatives, just like those carrying out espionage at various levels in Russia on America’s behalf, are American-born citizens (Russian, of course, on the American side) who secured employment in a useful capacity, established trust and passed background checks before they decided to spy for another country, or were “turned” by the other country. Excellent examples of spies for Russia who did incredible damage to American security are Aldrich Ames (CIA), John Walker (USN) and Robert Hannsen (FBI). All were established in their careers and positions before they offered to spy for the enemy. All were successful for a period of years. Ames and Hannsen would have had to pass a polygraph every 18 months or so as a condition of their employment within a security agency. Both regularly did so. Aldrich Ames wrote at length after his arrest on how useless the polygraph is. That’s because it’s only useful for obtaining a confession from someone who feels guilty about what they did.

    Chapman and the Apple Dumpling Gang are not examples of real espionage operatives, and there was much more of politics in their arrest than potential damage to American interests. Assuming they’re that easy to catch would be foolish.

    • kovane says:


      If I were you, I would immediately stop writing about Russia, especially in positive way. Look at Adomanis! He has to incessantly repel accusations of pro-Kremlin bias. And you, with your last name that so prominently came under the spotlight recently? What the chances of not being seen as the mouthpiece of Kremlin’s propaganda do you have?

      • kovane, we have to face up some hard facts here. Mark Chapman *is* a Kremlin stooge.

      • kovane says:


        if this is the case here, we all should by deeply appalled at the level of professionalism among the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service. Look, they already have an agent in Washington on the payroll, whose name is Mark. Recently, their spy was captured, whose last name is Chapman. And they name a new stooge “Mark Chapman”?! For God’s sake, do they only have two names in the white pages?

      • markchapman says:

        All those responses are pretty funny; I do like a sense of humour. I’m certainly flattered by any comparision with Mark Adomanis, however indirect, as I’m an admirer of his writing and his intellect. However, I don’t really have a pro-Kremlin bias. I just don’t care for Russophobia, or for the practice of condemning all Russians for the behavior of a few. I don’t like to see that applied to Americans, either, or anyone else.

        In the end, though, I don’t really mind hysterical shrieks that I’m a shill for Kommunist Krackdown – as Oscar Wilde said (was there anything worth saying that Oscar Wilde didn’t say at some point?), “the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about”. Anatoly, I like your work as well.

        Kovane…shhhhhh! Following the “hide in plain sight” principle, it was determined that the last thing the capitalist running dogs would suspect would be another stooge named Chapman. You’re going to blow the whole operation.

      • kovane says:


        I’m very sorry for almost blowing you cover, comrade. My bad. I hope you won’t report on me to FSB, my family is too young to die!

        In all seriousness, I’m glad that you took no offense at my comments, they were intended as a joke. As it very often happens to all jokes, it does contain a speck of truth. You’ll be constantly called Kremlin’s lapdog or something like that. But anyway, I’m very glad to see another rational Westerner, who doesn’t speak about Russia in stereotypes. Especially, a Canadian. I do have a sweet spot for the Canadians, since South Park, I guess. 🙂 Good luck with your writing!

  6. markchapman says:

    All those responses were pretty funny; I do like a sense of humour. Kovane: shhhh!! Following the “hide in plain sight” principle, assessment suggests the last thing the capitalist running dogs would suspect is another stooge named Chapman. You’re going to blow the whole operation (which I can tell you, upon your sworn oath to reveal it to no one, is codenamed, “Sovok Summer”).

    I’m flattered by any comparison – however indirect – with Mark Adomanis, as I am an admirer of his work and his intellect. Yours as well, Anatoly. I’m not really an advocate for the Kremlin, but I don’t mind vituperative suggestions of that nature, as I suspect Mark Adomanis does not. After all, as Oscar Wilde said (was there anything worth saying in English that Oscar Wilde did not say at some point?), “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about”.

  7. markchapman says:

    Sorry about the duplicate comment – it appeared not to have been transmitted, so I sent it again after recreating it as best I could remember.

  8. Julia:
    I am a huge fan, not only because you and I seem to be the only people in the galaxy who don’t think AC is the new Ksenia Sobchak…YECHHHHHHHHHHHH.

  9. cinrae says:

    I can’t think of a better spy front…born in Russia, now an american writer, sent back to Russia to “blog” for a year, then back to U.S???? I smell another spy scandal, and someone hiding in plain site.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s