A retired Russian colonel has been convicted and sentenced on charges of spying for the United States, it was announced Thursday.
According to a statement issued by Russia's counterintelligence agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB), a court in Moscow stripped Col. Vladimir Lazar of his military ranks and sentenced him to 12 years in a high security prison.
The FSB said Col Lazar had served in the "military-technical department of the general headquarters of the high command" of the Russian forces in Moscow before his retirement. It was also alleged that he had been working with the US intelligence since 1994.
Col. Lazar was accused of passing several computer disks containing more than 7,000 images of classified maps of Russia to an US intelligence agent in neighboring Belarus. He allegedly purchased the discs from a collector in 2008, before smuggling them to Belarus and handing them over to the US agent.
Col. Lazar's case is the latest among a number of others linking Russian individuals to US intelligence in recent months. The developments comes amidst strained relations between Russia and the United States, as well as NATO over the proposed deployment of a missile shield system in Eastern Europe.
The US and NATO maintain that the planned missile shield is intended to protect the region from possible missile attacks from rogue countries like Iran, and insist that it is not aimed at Russia. Nevertheless, Moscow argues that the planned missile shield poses a threat to Russia, and has warned that the missile system will destabilize eastern Europe and trigger a new arms race.
by RTT Staff Writer
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