Russian spies recruit tourists, undermine minorities in Lithuania

Free Russian visas to Kaliningrad and St Petersburg allow security services to recruit travelers, according to a Lithuanian intelligence report.

The National Threat Assessment, prepared by the State Security Department (VSD) and the Second Investigation Department under the Ministry of National Defence (AOTD), also reports on a Russian spy operating in Lithuania from Kaliningrad and warns about Chinese officers posing as employers on professional social networks.

Last year, the Russian government introduced free online visas for travelers from Lithuania and 52 other countries to visit Kaliningrad and St Petersburg. This allows easier travel for Lithuanians, but also presents national security risks, according to the Lithuanian intelligence.

“Visa facilitation and the consequent increase of foreigners traveling to Russia are particularly favourable to Russian intelligence services. They systematically search for foreigners able to provide intelligence on foreign countries or perform other tasks,” the National Threat Assessment warns.

This allows for easier “intelligence from the territory”, a foreign intelligence method developed by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) and the military intelligence agency GRU.

The majority of Russian espionage cases that came to light in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in recent years involved Baltic residents recruited within Russia, according to the report.

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