Russia deployed an “extremely high” number of intelligence officers at its Czech embassy last year, according to a secret service report.
The report noted:
“Based on the threat level posed to Czech interests and citizens, the BIS continued to focus its counterintelligence efforts in 2013 on Russian and Chinese intelligence activities in the Czech Republic.
Both the Russian and the Chinese embassy employ intelligence officers serving under diplomatic cover.”
In 2013, the number of such officers at the Russian embassy was extremely high. Moreover, further intelligence officers traveled to the Czech Republic individually as tourists, experts, academics, businessmen etc. It is unfortunate that the denial of visas or accreditations for Russian citizens with ties to Russian intelligence services leads to retaliation against Czech career diplomats.
However, allowing Russian covert intelligence officers (including officers who engaged in hostile espionage in the Czech Republic or the EU) to freely enter the Czech Republic would mean yielding to extortion and abandoning the sovereignty of the Czech Republic.
Russian and Chinese intelligence services aimed to strengthen and extend their influence in the Czech Republic. Russian intelligence services attempted to make use of both open and covert political, media and societal influence to promote Russian economic interests in the Czech Republic (harmed by the losses of EGAP in relation to Russian projects and by the problems surrounding the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant). Chinese intelligence services attempted to make use of economic arguments in order to promote Chinese political interests in the Czech Republic.
It may seem that exerting influence by employing active or other measures is not an espionage tactic. In fact, quite the opposite is true.
Retired KGB Major General Oleg Kalugin described active measures in a CNN interview as “the heart and soul of Soviet intelligence”: “Not intelligence collection, but subversion: active measures to weaken the West, to drive wedges in the Western community alliances of all sorts, particularly NATO, to sow discord among allies…”. The Cold War and the Soviet Union remain remnants of the past; however, the Russian passion for active measures (and agents under non-official cover) has not waned. Our today’s world differs only in one aspect from the past: the “divide and rule” policy in relation to the Czech Republic, EU and NATO is employed not only by the Russians, but also by the Chinese
Russian and Chinese open, semi-covert and covert active measure operations aimed at expanding influence in the Czech Republic rely on easily influenced Czech citizens helping them either intentionally or unintentionally. The Russians and the Chinese focus mainly on journalists, members of parliamentary political parties, civil servants, lobbyists, networking organizations, the management of employer or employee organizations, activists and non-governmental organizations.
In order to prevent the expansion of Russian and Chinese influence (and espionage in general) it is necessary to realize that interest expressed by a Russian/Chinese diplomat, journalist or expert may not be caused by one’s exceptionality, but by intentions to make use of such ties for intelligence purposes.”
Note: The mission of the Security Information Service (BIS), which was created as a state intelligence agency of the Czech Republic, is to protect national interests, democracy and freedom, and to defend individual citizens and the state vis-a-vis the most serious forms of crime. Ublike most other spy agencies the Czechs work in collaboration with other intelligence agencies for protection of the state and partner services of all democratic countries, BIS fulfils the task of anticipating, blunting and eliminating threats which put in jeopardy, not only the republic but the entire human civilization. This is in keeping with its creed. It is one of the best intelligence agencies in the world.