Intelligence: November 10, 1999

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The Czech Republic is the current center of Russian spying in Europe. The Czech government is not happy about this, but has been unable to eliminate the Russian spy presence. This is partly because the primary spies operate with diplomatic immunity (half of the unusually large Russian embassy delegation of 170 are spies), but another problem is that the Czech government and military (not to mention Czech society) still contains thousands of people who show strong loyalty to Moscow. The Czechs are unwilling to accept the kind of draconian counter-intelligence systems it would take to purge these people. The Czech Security Information Service does not interfere with the Russian spies, having only expelled one in the last 10 years. Germany has expelled 150 and Poland has expelled 11. The problem is serious. NATO cannot provide the Czechs with certain key information because this would quickly be passed on to Moscow. This makes the Czechs into second-class members of the Alliance, which is no help toward efforts to keep the Alliance solid. Moreover, if and when the Baltic Statess, Bulgaria, and Romania (all of which have strong pro-Russian elements, far more so than Hungary and Poland) become members of NATO, they may face similar problems.--Stephen V Cole

 


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