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Moscow Denies Involvement In Alleged U.S. Procurement Network

  • RFE/RL

Moscow says Russian spy agencies were not involved in an alleged network illegally exporting high-technology components from the United States.

The U.S. Justice Department said on October 3 it had broken up a network aimed at illegally acquiring U.S.-made electronic components for Russian military and spy agencies.

Federal prosecutors in New York City charged 11 suspects on October 3.

Export of the sophisticated microelectronics is subject to strict U.S. government controls due to their potential use in military radar and surveillance and detonator triggers.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich noted the defendants had not been charged with espionage.

"We have received a clarification from the U.S. side that these charges are of a criminal nature and are not related to any intelligence activity," Lukashevich said.

Lukashevich also expressed concern about the "failure" of U.S. authorities to duly inform Moscow of the arrest of Russian nationals.

"We have serious questions about the fact that the U.S. authorities did not properly inform the Russian Consulate about the arrests of our compatriots," he said.

"The Russian Embassy in Washington and the General Consulate in Houston are now seeking consular meetings with all of the arrested Russian citizens."

Eight In Custody

Federal prosecutors on October 3 said the suspects allegedly involved in the high-tech procurement network include a Kazakh-born man holding Russian and U.S. passports, Alexander Fishenko.

They said Fishenko, an owner of a Houston, Texas electronics company, was operating in the United States as an unregistered agent of the Russian government.

Prosecutors said Fishenko and several company employees falsified federal export documents and concealed the nature of their work.

U.S. law enforcement officials said Fishenko and seven alleged associates were being held in custody by U.S. authorities. The officials said three other individuals charged in the indictment were currently in Russia.

Fishenko and the seven others charged in the case appeared on October 4 in federal court in Houston. None of the defendants entered pleas during the hearing. Another hearing is due for October 5 to determine if the defendants will be allowed out of jail before the trial starts.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, "The New York Times," and Interfax