Geopolitics

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Russian intelligence is again being accused of using outdated Cold War-era tactics.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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Society

What It Means When The Jews Of Germany No Longer Feel Safe

A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.

At a protest against antisemitism in Berlin

Eva Marie Kogel

-Essay-

BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.


Incidents are piling up. Most recently, groups of neo-Nazis from across the country traveled to a church near Berlin for the funeral of a well-known far-right figure. He was buried in the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender, a gravesite chosen deliberately by the right-wing extremists.

The incident at the cemetery

They intentionally chose a Jewish grave as an act of provocation, trying to gain maximum publicity for this act of desecration. And the cemetery authorities at the graveyard in Stahnsdorf fell for it. The church issued an immediate apology, calling it a "terrible mistake" and saying they "must immediately see whether and what we can undo."

There are so many incidents that get little to no media attention.

It's unfathomable that this burial was allowed to take place at all, but now the cemetery authorities need to make a decision quickly about how to put things right. Otherwise, the grave may well become a pilgrimage site for Holocaust deniers and antisemites.

The incident has garnered attention in the international press and it will live long in the memory. Like the case of singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim, who recently claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a hotel in Leipzig. Details of the crime are still being investigated. But there are so many other incidents that get little to no media attention.

Photo of the grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

Jens Kalaene/dpa/ZUMA

Crimes against Jews are rising

Across all parts of society, antisemitism is on the rise. Until a few years ago, Jewish life was seen as an accepted part of German society. Since the attack on the synagogue in Halle in 2019, the picture has changed: it was a bitter reminder that right-wing terror against Jewish people has a long, unbroken history in Germany.

Stories have abounded about the coronavirus crisis being a Jewish conspiracy; meanwhile, Muslim antisemitism is becoming louder and more forceful. The anti-Israel boycott movement BDS rears its head in every debate on antisemitism, just as left-wing or post-colonial thinking are part of every discussion.

Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

Since 2015, the number of antisemitic crimes recorded has risen by about a third, to 2,350. But victims only report around 20% of cases. Some choose not to because they've had bad experiences with the police, others because they're afraid of the perpetrators, and still others because they just want to put it behind them. Victims clearly hold out little hope of useful reaction from the state – so crimes go unreported.

And the reality of Jewish life in Germany is a dark one. Sociologists say that Jewish children are living out their "identity under siege." What impact does it have on them when they can only go to nursery under police protection? Or when they hear Holocaust jokes at school?

Germany needs to take its antisemitism seriously

This shows that the country of commemorative services and "stumbling blocks" placed in sidewalks as a memorial to victims of the Nazis has lost its moral compass. To make it point true north again, antisemitism needs to be documented from the perspective of those affected, making it visible to the non-Jewish population. And Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

That is the first thing. The second is that we need to talk about specifically German forms of antisemitism. For example, the fact that in no other EU country are Jewish people so often confronted about the Israeli government's policies (according to a survey, 41% of German Jews have experienced this, while the EU average is 28%). Projecting the old antisemitism onto the state of Israel offers people a more comfortable target for their arguments.

Our society needs to have more conversations about antisemitism. The test of German democracy, as McCloy called it, starts with taking these concerns seriously and talking about them. We need to have these conversations because it affects all of us. It's about saving our democracy. Before it's too late.

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