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Russian FSB Agents To Leave Crimea

A Russian Black Sea Fleet soldier in Sevastopol recently
A Russian Black Sea Fleet soldier in Sevastopol recently
SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine -- Russian intelligence service (FSB) cells within Russia's Black Sea Fleet based in Sevastopol are to be dissolved and all FSB agents moved to Russia by mid-December, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

In June, Ukrainian Security Service Chairman Valentyn Nalyvaichenko said that all FSB workers operating within the fleet that are based in Sevastopol are to leave Ukraine by December 13.

He said Ukraine would then begin security oversight for the Russian fleet in Crimea.

Sources within Ukraine's security agencies told RFE/RL that the Russian agents' departure is being carefully monitored.

They said Some Russian intelligence workers have already left Ukraine and others are due to leave soon.

Officially, 19 FSB operatives have been based in Sevastopol according to an agreement between the Ukrainian and Russian security services.

Most of those FSB officers have been in Crimea since 2001.

Ukrainian security services recently accused these agents of supporting anti-Ukrainian sentiment and activities, backing Russian separatist organizations, and protesting against NATO-led military exercises being held on the Crimean peninsula.

Some of the FSB officers are to be transferred to the Russian port of Novorossiisk.

Neither Russia's Black Sea Fleet command nor the Ukrainian security service would officially comment on the status of the FSB officers.

The Russian fleet, which is leasing the Crimean base from Ukraine, is due to leave Sevastopol in 2017.