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Alleged Spies Agree to Leave Canada

Ottawa, June 11 (RFE/RL) -- Two Russians accused of being spies in Canada have agreed to leave the country and will be deported soon, officials say.

Canadian Immigration Department spokeswoman Anna Pape says Dmitry Olshevsky and Yelena Olshevskaya "will be flown to Russia as soon as possible." She declined to say when that will be, although she conceded it is "more likely to be days rather than weeks."

As usual in deportations, the government of Canada will pay the cost of flying the pair back to Russia. Pape also confirmed that the Immigration Department "believes the couple are married, although it's become apparent that they had separated and both had taken lovers in Canada, both of whom were at the court appearances."

Pape says the Russian Embassy in Ottawa "will have to supply travel documents for them." However, a spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Ottawa, Vladimir Salov, says he "knows nothing about the couple and the case and, seriously, we have no comment."

The accused spies appeared in a Toronto court on Friday for a 15-minute deportation hearing. They put forward no defence against the accusations. Last Wednesday, the couple refused to present a defence at a court hearing where evidence of the spying allegations was to be made by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service - or CSIS, as it's called. As a result, the Canadian agency was never forced to detail its spying allegations.

The lawyer representing the couple says their failure to fight the deportation move "is not an admission of guilt." Lorne Waldman told reporters that "we admitted they are Russians: that's not in dispute. But at no point have either of my clients made any admission with respect to the allegations (of spying)."

Waldman says his clients decided they would rather leave Canada than spend months waiting for their case to go through the courts and added, "I think it's fair to say they are relieved the process is finally over."

There was some confusion over names of the couple. When CSIS presented its case last week, it identified the two as Dmitriy Vladimirovich Olshansky and Yelena Borisovna Olshanskaya and said they had assumed the identities of two dead Canadians, Ian and Laurie (Broder) Lambert. However, in Friday's court appearance, the federal government identified them as Dmitry Olshevsky (aged 32) and Yelena Olshevskaya (aged 33). When questioned about the discrepancy in names, Waldman says "they have admitted to the more recent spelling of their names" and declined to talk about the differences.

Despite the end to the Cold War, the watch-dog committee which oversees activities of CSIS said, in its annual report to the Canadian Parliament this year, that it remains "very concerned" about economic and industrial espionage on the part of the former Soviet Union.