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Germany

Where Have You Gone KGB? Another Case Of Russian Spies Stuck In The Past

Russian intelligence is again being accused of using outdated Cold War-era tactics. First it was Anna Chapman, the red-headed Russian arrested last year in the United States. This time the alleged spies are a middle-aged couple operating for the past 20 y

Where Have You Gone KGB? Another Case Of Russian Spies Stuck In The Past
Elena Chornenko and Vladimir Solovyev

Russian spies are living in the past...take two!

Prosecutors have seized a computer and documents belonging to a man who goes by the name of Andreas Anschlag. The raid took place at Anschlang's workplace, an industrial machinery company Schunk Group in Heuchelheim, Germany. Investigators also emptied out the house in nearby Marburg where the man rented with his wife, Heidrun.

The couple was said to have operated in Germany for more than 20 years, and were apparently caught listening to 1970s-style encrypted radio messages. Investigators told Kommersant Anschlag and his wife moved to Germany in 1990 via Mexico using false Austrian passports, and were in close contact with Anna Chapman, the once U.S.-based redhead who gained notoriety after being sent back to Russia in a prisoner swap following her arrest by American authorities in June 2010. The arrest came amidst a crackdown on a spy ring of at least 10 people.

Anschlag is thought to be approximately 45 years old. His wife, Heidrun, is 51. One neighbor said both spoke German with a slight accent, and sounded either Russian or Polish. Another neighbor said: "When one of the residents asked them whether or not they were from eastern Europe, the couple categorically said ‘no.""

Little else was known about the couple, other than that they moved to Marburg with their daughter around a year ago from the town of Landau-in-der-Pfalz, where they had lived for several years.

Despite reports that they'd been sending coded messages to Moscow using short-wave broadcasts, the couple's neighbors doubt they were actually spying for Russia. "There were no special antennas at their home. Besides, who would transmit sensitive information in this Internet age?" said one neighbor. "The Berlin wall fell 20 years ago. We have a good relationship with Russia. Why would they spy on us?"

But Erich Schmidt-Eenboom, the director of the Institute for Peace and an intelligence expert, says that the transmission of encrypted messages over the radio is still practiced.

"It is quite an old method, but it is very convenient and safe. Andreas Anschlag probably procured trade secrets, sent them to Moscow and received return instructions. I think this story is very plausible," he said.

Hallmarks of a Russian job

"If it is true that over 20 years ago he came to Germany with a forged Austrian passport, via Latin America, then it has the hallmarks of the Russian secret services," Schmidt-Eenboom said, noting that they were not the first Russian agents arrested in Germany after the Cold War.

"As a rule, the secret services do not trumpet the capture of spies, preferring to work quietly. But we know that the Russians and the Chinese are the most active in industrial espionage in Germany," Schmidt-Eenboom said. "The Chinese try to use information they have gained to help their manufacturing industry, while the Russians, as far as I know, use their secrets for their special services."

The big question now is what exactly will happen to the recently arrested couple. Schmidt-Eenboom says if they are found guilty, they will get no more than five or six years jail.

Neither German nor Russian authorities have made any official statement on the case. Some observers see Moscow's silence as indirect confirmation that the pair were indeed spies.

If they were working for Russian intelligence, federal law stipulates that Moscow must come to the rescue of the agents, who must be granted new positions. This was the case with some of the spies unmasked in the United States last year, including Anna Chapman, who in addition to getting her own TV show, became an investment and innovation adviser for Fundservicebank, a Moscow bank.

Read the original article in Russian

Photo - Tony the Misfit

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Geopolitics

Idlib Nightmare: How Syria's Lingering Civil War Is Blocking Earthquake Aid

Across the border from the epicenter in Turkey, the Syrian region of Idlib is home to millions of people displaced by the 12-year-long civil war. The victims there risk not getting assistance because of the interests of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, reminding the world of one of the great unresolved conflicts of our times.

Photo of Syrian civilians inspecting a destroyed residential building in Idlib after the earthquake

A destroyed residential building in Idlib after the earthquake

Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

Faced with a disaster of the magnitude of the earthquakes that struck Turkey and Syria, one imagines a world mobilized to bring relief to the victims, where all barriers and borders disappear. Unfortunately, this is only an illusion in such a complex and scarred corner of the world.

Yes, there's been an instant international outpouring of countries offering assistance and rescue teams converging on the disaster zones affected by the earthquakes. It is a race against time to save lives.

But even in such dramatic circumstances, conflict, hatred and competing interests do not somehow vanish by magic.

Sometimes, victims of natural disasters face a double price. This is the case for the 4.5 million inhabitants of Idlib, a region located in northwestern Syria, which was directly hit by the earthquake. So far, the toll there has reached at least 900 people killed, thousands injured and countless others left homeless in the harsh winter.

The inhabitants of Idlib, two-thirds of whom are displaced from other regions of Syria, live in an area that is still beyond the control of Bashar al-Assad, and they've been 90% dependent on international aid... which has not been arriving.

To put maximum pressure on these millions of people, the Syrian government and its Russian ally have gradually restricted the ability to get humanitarian aid to them.

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