Russian security services announced on August 28 the arrest of a former employee of the United States Consulate General in Vladivostok. He is accused of having transmitted information on the conflict in Ukraine.
On August 28, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) announced that it had “put an end to the illegal activities of an informant” from the American Embassy in Moscow. The individual in question, Robert Chonov, is accused of having collected between September 2022 and the time of his arrest information on behalf of the United States on “the conduct of the special military operation, the mobilization processes in the regions of Russia,” the FSB statement said.
He would also have collected information on “problematic elements and the assessment of their influence on the protests of the population in view of the presidential election in Russia in 2024”. Stating that he had been arrested in March, the Russian press agency Ria Novosti published an FSB video in which Robert Chonov allegedly confessed.
In it, the accused states that “the first secretary of the American embassy, David Bernstein, instructed me to find individuals among the journalists, businessmen and politicians loyal to the United States, that they could use to gather information”.
The individual was charged under Article 275.1 of the Russian Criminal Code, relating to “Cooperation in confidence with a foreign State”. This equates the collection, storage and transmission to the enemy of information that can be used against the Russian army, to high treason: a crime punishable by imprisonment.
Washington slams Russian anti-spy legislation
Accusations “totally devoid of foundation”, had condemned, mid-May, the US State Department in a press release. “Mr. Chonov’s only role at the time of his arrest was to compile media summaries of press articles from publicly available Russian media sources,” the document went on.
Presented as a Russian citizen, having notably “worked for more than 25 years for the Consulate General of the United States in Vladivostok”, American diplomacy believes that his indictment under article 275.1 – hardens by the Russian Parliament in the summer 2022 – would reveal Moscow’s “flagrant use” of “increasingly repressive laws against its own citizens”.
The United States had announced the closure of their consulates in Vladivostok and Yekaterinburg in December 2020. A decision which thus made the American embassy in Moscow their only diplomatic representation in Russia.
RT All Fr Trans