Russia’s intelligence services are still extremely active in Berlin. It’s all about influencing public opinion.

A year and a half after the attack on Ukraine and the subsequent sanctions against Russia, the Kremlin’s espionage in Berlin is “permanently high”. A senior security official told the Tagesspiegel.

What is meant here is in particular the work of “agents of influence”, i.e. those men and women who use their work in political associations, citizens’ initiatives and business enterprises in this country to influence public opinion or the decision-making of certain actors. The boundaries between the usual, completely legal PR, for example at cultural festivals, and the collection of protected information by the secret service are fluid.

“In Berlin as the capital, the presence of foreign intelligence services is particularly high”

The Berlin Senate also announced in an unpublished response to a request from Green MP Gollaleh Ahmadi: “Russia continues to endeavor to influence public opinion-forming and political discourse in Germany beyond its classic espionage activities. This influence takes place via social networks, state-sponsored and private institutes and Russian state media,” writes Nicola Böcker-Giannini (SPD), State Secretary in the Interior Administration.

After the Russian attack on Ukraine a year ago, the previous Senate announced: “The presence of foreign intelligence services is particularly high in Berlin as the capital”, which is why “counterespionage in general and especially in the current situation” is of great importance. The Russian secret services FSB, SWR and GRU have also officially registered employees in so-called legal residencies in the embassy in Berlin. This is customary internationally and is used for exchanges with security officials in the host country, for example during terrorist situations.

By Hannes Heine.


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