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RUSSIARSS

‘Spy-rock’ was the real deal – British

by at 19/01/2012 16:22

 

The British have admitted that 2006’s “spy-rock” was indeed the genuine article and not just a piece of anti-Western propaganda dreamt up by Kremlin-backed journalists.

The Federal Security Service, or FSB, did catch British diplomats red-handed when they used a high-tech fake rock to spy on Russia back in 2006, Jonathan Powell, then-Prime Minister Tony Blair's chief of staff, told a BBC documentary.

“The spy rock was embarrassing,” Powell said. “They had us bang to rights. Clearly they had known about it for some time, and they’ve been saving it up for a political purpose.”

 

Stone master caught on camera

A story on a transmitter disguised as an unremarkable stone peacefully lying on a patch of grass in a Moscow suburb was first aired by the state TV-channel Rossia 1 in a program by Arkady Mamontov, known for his pro-government pieces. The footage showed a man slowing his walking pace and glancing at a stone in front of him. And another man was filmed by the camera taking the rock away.

The second secretary of the embassy, Marc Doe was caught on camera together with some other British diplomats, according to Mamontov’s report.

The highlight of Mamontov’s program was the fact that Doe was the overseer of several Russian NGOs and endorsed documents concerning financial support for some of them.

 

NGOs face the fallout

The report attracted the attention of the world’s media, and then-President Vladimir Putin personally.  

Putin said at the time that financial support from abroad should be cancelled for Russian NGOs, which was promptly dubbed by critics as an attempt to gain more control over local NGOs.

Highly-reputable human-rights watchdog Moscow Helsinki Group took the FSB to court, claiming the accusations that it served foreign governments in order to receive funding from abroad was nothing but slander. The group lost the case.

Although the scandal faded after some time, the Russian-British relationship was seriously damaged after that. The notorious poisoning of former-FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko in London, which happened later in 2006, was another blow for the relationship between the two countries. 

 

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