Russian spies register identifies 42 individuals arrested for espionage in Europe


A register of Russian spies in Europe, shared on Twitter, identifies 42 individuals acting in their own countries and being paid by the Russian Federation. This register was produced on the basis of the open data and information related to arrests or proceedings of these identified Russian spies in the last five years, writes Truthmeter.mk.

Under the content-sharing agreement between Truthmeter.mk and Meta.mk, we republish the text below:


Bulgaria is the second country – after Poland – with the largest number of cases – 8, with five indictments, which is two less than Poland.

Visualization: Number of indictments initiated against suspected Russian spies per country

A journalist, a civil servant and three entrepreneurs were arrested in Poland. The politician Januzs Niedzwiecki, head of an extreme right party in Poland, whose interests are close to those of Kremlin, was also arrested, show the data in the spy register.

Among those arrested under espionage charges in Bulgaria is the president of the National Movement “Russophiles”, Nikolay Malinov.

The Bulgarian newspaper “Sega” (Now) reports that the indictment for Malinov was submitted in 2019, but there is still no court ruling. According to the indictment, Malinov communicated with two organizations headquartered in Russia, receiving orders to create a pro-Russian party and try to redirect Bulgaria towards the East, then establish a TV channel and a website for that same purpose, as well as a non-governmental organization and a think-tank organization. The trial started as late as 2021, and the case was once returned to the lower level by the Specialized Criminal Court, with the explanation that the deadlines have not been obeyed. When the special court was closed down, the case continued in the City Court – Sofia.

The other case in Bulgaria is from March 2021, against six persons accused of espionage in favor of Russia. The State Prosecution published video and audio abstracts from the meetings of the accused andm according to the indictment, a 74-year-old former head of the Bulgarian military intelligence who graduated at the Russian GRU prior to 1989, established and managed a six-member spying group. The group included his wife, one of his former employees, and the current chief of the secret office of the Bulgarian Parliament and the Deputy Director of the Budget Department of the Defence Ministry.

The trial – according to “Sega” – was stopped last March and all of the accused in the espionage case were released on bail.

Germany is third in the Register of Russian spies. In 2022, four persons were arrested for espionage. Exposed and detained were two intelligence officers, as well as a Russian scientist and a businessman who was involved in technology espionage.

Last year in Sweden four persons were arrested. Evidence was found proving that they worked for the Russian military intelligence agency GRU. The last on the list is Norway. In 2022, a researcher from the Tromso University, Mikhail Mikushin, was arrested. According to the indictment, he apparently worked for GRU under the false identity of a Brazilian citizen.

The Twitter account user who published the Register, concluded that in the last five years throughout Europe were discovered more than 30 cases of spying in favor of Russia. Military staff and other uniformed services are predominant in the candidates for recruitment. Active cases mainly include agents born in Russia.

Visualization: Russian spies by nationality

It seems like the work of the Russian intelligence is risky, but not too profitable. P. Buchka, the Rector of the Slovak Armed Forces Academy, received €46,000 for the 9 years of “experience”. The Bulgarian “axis” was much better off, with US$3,000 per agent. What can be expected in 2023? Most probably, more difficult moments for the Russian intelligence networks in Europe. Since the invasion, more than 400 diplomats were expelled from Western countries. That has serious impact on the capacity of Russia to work with sources from the field and to recruit new agents, reports the author of the Register.

Bulgarian media consider that this published document is a good basis for analyzing the presence of Russian intelligence on Bulgarian soil. Bulgarian media consider the statement of Lena Borislavova, the Chief of Cabinet of the former prime minister Kiril Petkov from last July about Russia paying BGN 4,000 per month to its “spokepersons” as highly indicative. According to her, they are “public and political figures”, including journalists, political scientists, politicians and public figures who are opinion-makers publicly expressing support for the Russian Federation. However, it is not clear whether a thorough investigation by the Prosecution and the National Security Service followed Borislavova’s accusation.

The former Bulgarian Ambassador to the USA and Vice-President of the Political Club, Elena Poptodorova, in a statement given for TV Nova from Bulgariа, said that the Russian services were very comfortable in Bulgaria as their starting point in the region, and so the number of Russian spiesin Bulgaria is quite big. Poptodorova also commented Macedonian President Stevo Pendarovski‘s statement about the active work of the Russian secret services on disrupting the Macedonian-Bulgarian relations.

Every politician who attacks the Republic of North Macedonia for political and trade purposes is actually serving Russian interest. The outlook, however, is much more complex than just the espionage connections. No doubt, those supposed characters that Mr. Pendarovski talks about, are related to Russian services because they have their own agenda, their own genesis that can serve Russian interest. However, it is very difficult to identify a link with the Russian services in terms of handling, finances etc. The thesis itself is true – all politicians and political parties in Bulgaria who are targeting Macedonia for their own political and mercantile interest, are working in favor of Russia. Nevertheless, the outlook is much broader than what Pendarovski mentioned, stated the former Bulgarian Ambassador to the USA.


Number of expelled Russian diplomats

The published Register of Russian spies does not have data on North Macedonia.

The public is aware of the expelled diplomats posted to the Russian Embassy in Skopje.

In 2021, two Russian diplomats were declared “persona non grata”; one in May, and the other in August and soon after expelled. Russia responded by expelling Macedonian diplomats from Moscow.

Last March, the Macedonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) declared another five Russian diplomats for “persona non grata”. According to the MFA, the diplomats were performing activities that violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

Author: Vesna Kolovska


This article was produced within the project Fact-Checking the Progress of North Macedonia towards the EU, implemented by the Metamorphosis Foundation. The article, originally published by Truthmeter, was produced with support from the American non-profit foundation NED (National Endowment for Democracy). The content of this article is the responsibility of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Metamorphosis, NED or their partners.

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