Anglo-Russian tensions continue with new "spy" allegations
The British government confirmed Friday that Russia has accused one of its diplomats the embassy in Moscow of spying in what was seen as a further sign of tension in relations between the two countries, reported dpa.
"I can confirm that a member of the British staff is suspected of spying by the Russians. He is the acting director of UK Trade and Industry. However, we do not comment on intelligence matters," said a spokesman for the Foreign Office Friday.
Press reports gave the name of the diplomat as Christopher Bowers, a counsellor at the embassy.
Russia news agency Interfax reported the source as saying: "The activities of Christopher Bowers, a counsellor at the British Embassy in Russia, and probably, simultaneously a senior officer with British Intelligence, are giving rise to questions among Russian intelligence services."
It was claimed Bowers had been engaged in "suspicious" meetings with activists from the North Caucasus, including Chechnya.
According to the Times newspaper Friday, the decision to single out Bowers could be linked to the ongoing tension surrounding Anglo-Russian oil giant TNK-BP.
The newspaper claims British security officials have voiced fears that Russia's intelligence services may have "flooded" London with agents.
Relations between Britain and Russia have been tense since the murder of former agent Alexander Litvinenko, who died from radiation poisoning in a London hospital in November, 2006.
Russia has refused to hand over Andrei Lugovoi, the ex-agent and prominent businessman London believes was behind the murder.
The new developments follow a reportedly frosty first meeting between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the recent Group of Eight (G8) summit in Japan.