European countries are hunting Russian spies

A number of revelations in recent years have shown that Europe’s fear of centrally located Russian spies has been well-founded, and with the war in Ukraine, the hunt for them has stepped up.

Earlier this month, two Iranian-born brothers in Sweden, Peyman (42) and Payam Kia (35), were found guilty of spying for Russia’s military intelligence service GRU.

Peyman Kia was previously employed by the Swedish Security Police (Säpo) and was subsequently given a highly trusted position in Sweden’s military intelligence and security service (Must). There he was associated with the most secret department the Office for Special Acquisition (KSI), which, among other things, handles agents abroad.

Ever since 2011, he and his little brother supplied GRU with top secret information for a fee, and the sentence was life imprisonment. Payam Kia was sentenced to just under ten years in prison. Both pleaded not guilty.


Sweden is not the only country in Europe that has uncovered centrally located Russian spies in its own ranks recently. In December, German police arrested a suspected double agent in the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), the country’s foreign intelligence service.

German media identified him as Carsten L., and according to the country’s attorney general, he has “transferred information, which he has obtained through his professional activities, to the Russian intelligence service”.

A month earlier, a 66-year-old reserve officer in the German defense was found guilty of spying for Russia, not for money, but for ideological reasons. Ralf G. confessed during interrogation and escaped with a suspended prison sentence.

A few days ago, German police arrested another suspected Russian spy, Arthur E. who has also worked for the BND and who is said to have collaborated with Carsten L.

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In March last year, a captain in the staff of Italy’s chief of defense was arrested in a car park on the outskirts of Rome. Then he was about to hand over a memory stick to a Russian military attache. On it turned out to be pictures of 181 classified documents, 47 of them classified NATO documents and nine labeled top secret.

Walter Biot was allegedly promised just over NOK 50,000 for the documents. His wife told in an interview with the newspaper Corriere della Sera that the family was mired in debt and desperately short of money.

Great Britain

In Britain, a 58-year-old security guard at the country’s embassy in Berlin admitted last autumn to having supplied Russian intelligence with classified information for almost a year.

David Smith admitted under questioning to filming the embassy’s security systems and also provided his Russian contact with detailed information about everyone who worked there, including British intelligence personnel. He faces up to 14 years in prison.


In March 2021, the security service in Bulgaria rolled out a Russian spy ring.

A former high-ranking officer in the country’s military intelligence service was designated as the leader, and five former and current officers in the Bulgarian defense are said to have given the GRU classified information, including about Nato.


In 2020, a retired colonel in Austria was found guilty of spying for the GRU for 25 years.

According to the verdict, the 73-year-old received close to NOK 3 million and told in questioning that Russia wanted information on everything from European weapons systems to the migrant crisis in Europe.

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Due to his advanced age, he was spared three years in prison.


In 2018, one official in Poland’s Ministry of Energy arrested and accused of spying for Russia. The man was found guilty, among other things, of having given Russian intelligence secret documents about the country’s views on the Nord Stream-2 pipeline and was sentenced to three years in prison.

Last year, Poland also arrested five men who are accused of having given the GRU information both about Polish military targets and NATO forces and installations in the country. Two of those arrested were Russian citizens, and three came from Belarus.


The year before, a Hungarian member of the European Parliament, Bela Kovacs , accused of spying for Russia. Kovacs belonged to the far-right Jobbik party and had previously studied and worked in Russia.

A Hungarian court found him guilty of providing Russian intelligence with classified information from the EU and sentenced him last September to five years in prison in absentia. He is believed to be in Moscow.


A former member of the National Assembly of Moldova, Iurie Bolboceanu, was arrested in March 2017 and the following year sentenced to 14 years in prison after being found guilty of spying for Russia.

According to the verdict, Bolboceanu was recruited by the GRU in 2016 and handed over classified information to Russia’s military attache in the country.


In Latvia, Aleksandrs Krasnopjorovs was arrested in 2016 and accused of monitoring NATO soldiers and weapons shipments.

Krasnopjorovs, who was a former Soviet soldier and served in Afghanistan, handed the material over to contacts in Russia. He was found guilty of espionage and sentenced to 18 months in prison.

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Last year, another Latvian, Valentin Frolov , found guilty of spying for Russia and sentenced to five years in prison. He too spied on Nato targets in the country.


In last year, a Russian chemist was sentenced to three years in prison in Denmark after being found guilty of years of espionage against Danish research environments and technology companies.

Among other things, the man spied against Denmark’s Technical University (DTU) and a technology company in Jutland on behalf of Russian intelligence, which he denied during the trial.


The police security service in Norway established as early as last spring that the intelligence threat from Russia increased as a result of the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

– Arms exports from Norway to Ukraine are a direct military contribution to Russia’s adversary in the war. Such contributions are of obvious interest to Russian intelligence services, slo PST fast.

Seven months later, the police arrested a guest lecturer at the University of Tromsø and charged him with espionage for the benefit of Russia.

The man, who was researching hybrid threats, posed as a 37-year-old Brazilian, but PST believes that he is actually 44-year-old Russian GRU agent Mikhail Valeryevich Mikushin.

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