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In the Primorsky Territory, a resident of Vladivostok was detained on suspicion of treason in the interests of Ukrainian intelligence. The day before, it was reported that an employee of the aircraft factory was also detained in the Moscow region in the case of treason.

There have been more and more cases like this lately. What is the reason for this and who becomes a traitor to the motherland today?

Irina Mishina

As we were informed at the Center for Public Relations of the FSB, a resident of Vladivostok collected and transmitted to the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine data on military infrastructure facilities in Primorsky Krai. The quality director of the Russian aircraft factory, who was detained a day earlier, is suspected of handing over drawings of military aviation equipment to Ukraine. Recall: earlier, the court sentenced journalist Ivan Safronov to 22 years in a strict regime prison in the case of treason. He was also fined 500,000 rubles and restricted for two years after his release.

Will there be a repetition of the 37th year?

There is no official statistics of those convicted under the article on treason over the past 13 years. However, according to human rights activists, in 2014 there was a surge in such crimes. The increase in detainees on suspicion of treason also falls on 2016 and 2021. “As you can see, the increase in the number of treason cases is connected with political events. The annexation of Crimea, then the events in Ukraine. But I would not draw any analogies with the 1937th year, because then accusations of treason were massive, now they are still single”, - human rights activist Zoya Svetova told NI.

Here it is appropriate to recall that in the early 2000s a wave of numerous accusations of scientists of treason swept through. Then high-profile cases were initiated against Igor Sutyagin, Valentin Danilov, Valentin Moiseev, Vladimir Shchurov. They had access to state secrets and talked a lot about work with foreign colleagues, not paying attention to the FSB.

“After high-profile sentences at the beginning of the 2000s, when there was a spy in every region of the country, scientists began to be afraid to contact foreigners - the task was completed,” a source in the Russian law enforcement agencies told NI.

There are 118 items on the list of what belongs to state secrets in Russia. According to the presidential decree, this is information in the military field, in the field of economics, foreign policy, science and technology, in the field of intelligence, counterintelligence and operational-search activities, in the field of countering terrorism and ensuring the security of persons under state protection. And even the names of the bodies and organizations empowered to dispose of this information. What exactly to make secret is decided by the government interdepartmental commission. Methods and means of investigating criminal cases of espionage are also a state secret, as, indeed, any actions of investigators in such a case. In other words, state secrets are any words that can be spoken or written about classified information.

The last time the list of data classified as state secrets was changed in May 2015. Secret became "information revealing the loss of personnel in wartime, in peacetime during special operations"; "information about subways or other structures that can be used in the interests of the country's defense." “Information revealing water supply schemes for cities with a population of more than 200 thousand people or railway junctions” is also recognized as secret; “information on the degree of ensuring the safety of the population”; "information disclosing the organization, forces, means or methods of ensuring the security of special facilities, as well as data on the financing of this activity".

“The surge in arrests on suspicion of treason is now connected with the political situation. Before the Patriotic War of 1941, the entire circle of persons potentially capable of cooperating with the Abwehr was cleared. Now, as far as I know, our special services have not carried out a similar sweep, everything has to be corrected along the way. The concept of "treason" is now quite broad, and our special services are vigilant. On the other hand, Ukrainian intelligence is now working quite actively, recruiting many of the people who do not approve of the special operation. This position in many cases leads to cooperation with Ukraine. Do not forget about the flow of refugees from Ukraine, which poured into Russia. Nobody filtered them and did not check them carefully. Now the special services have begun to clean up those recruited by Ukrainian intelligence. It is possible to establish a certain dependence associated with a special operation: when the federal troops are advancing, the level of suspicion of treason decreases, and when the initiative is on the side of Ukraine, the number of suspected treason grows”, - retired FSB Major General Alexander Mikhailov told NI.

Life for treason?

It is difficult to understand exactly how the court sets the term in cases of treason. Moreover, most of these courts are held behind closed doors. But we still managed to find out something. According to our source in the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, the disclosure of state secrets forms the basis of charges of espionage or treason. If information is transmitted, collected or stolen for transfer to a foreigner by a person without Russian citizenship, this is article 276 of the Criminal Code “Espionage” (from 10 to 20 years). If he spies or provides other assistance to foreigners directed “against the security of Russia”, a citizen of the country is subject to Article 275 “Treason” (from 12 to 20 years). Both crimes are classified as especially serious, the statute of limitations for them is 15 years. True, the other day, State Duma deputies proposed to give a life sentence for high treason. This caused a serious resonance in society, given the vagueness of the wording of the articles of the Criminal Code.

“Will this be an effective measure? For me, this question is open. If there really is such a problem, and there is a statistical analysis of a mass character, then this is a serious issue. It is necessary to study it comprehensively and understand whether the toughening of punishment will be the most effective countermeasure, or maybe there are some other options”, - said Mikhail Starshinov, First Deputy Head of the State Duma Committee on Security and Anti-Corruption.

“Life imprisonment is given, for example, for drug trafficking on an especially large scale. Under the USSR, treason was punishable by death. Now we do not have the death penalty as a capital punishment, the question of the upper limit of punishment is in the hands of the judge. For what Ivan Safonov was given 22 years, we do not know, because the court session was closed. All those suspected of treason are in a long development, and very strong arguments are needed for the highest measure. In addition, if every second person is imprisoned on trumped-up charges, there will not be enough cells, and the pre-trial detention center is already overcrowded”, - believes retired FSB Major General Alexander Mikhailov.

"Prevention" of treason

There are other suggestions as to why treason cases have become so frequent. “Treason and espionage cases are traditionally considered the most attractive for intelligence officers. Involvement in solving such cases provides security officers with a lot of bonuses in the form of promotions, promotions, awards, bonuses and other career “pleasures”,” lawyer Ivan Pavlov notes in his telegram channel * (recognized as a foreign agent in the Russian Federation).

However, intelligence officers categorically refute this thesis. “Many people remember the high-profile case to prevent the spread of counterfeit dollars in the capital, which was carried out by the FSB in Moscow. So, people who distinguished themselves in this operation were rewarded with a penny service and the removal of a previously imposed penalty. To get a rank, you need to go through the official compliance, and this is not so easy”, - explained retired FSB Major General Alexander Mikhailov.

But, probably, you can find other effective measures to counteract the cooperation of citizens with foreign intelligence services. For example, there are cases when FSB officers handed Russians "an official warning about the inadmissibility of actions that create conditions for the commission of crimes." And in 2010, norms appeared in the legislation allowing the FSB to conduct preventive work among the population. One of the preventive measures was the issuance of such an official warning. This measure is applied when the crime has not yet been committed. They do not initiate a criminal case, but only warn a person that he has approached the “red line”.