Former Russian intelligence officer dismisses Putin's spy claims

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Moscow, Dec.4 (ANI): A former Russian military intelligence officer has dismissed Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's claim that Russian spies did not engage in torture or kidnapping.

Historian Boris Volodarsky, a UK-based veteran of Russia's GRU military intelligence service, said Putin's comments were wide of the mark.

"Everyone knows about the methods that were and are used by the FSB security service, and especially by the FSB's Special Forces in the Caucasus republics (in southern Russia) and in Chechnya," The Telegraph quoted Volodarsky, as telling Radio Free Europe during an interview.

"It is very well known that people are kidnapped, tortured and killed with the direct participation of employees from Russia's intelligence services," said Volodarsky, who has written a book about the Kremlin's secret assassination squads over the years.

He also questioned Putin's other central claim that the 10 Russian spies deported from America this summer did no damage to US interests.

He said the group, including glamorous agent Anna Chapman, would have had a range of tasks to fulfill, including identifying new agents to recruit.

Their main task however would have been to act as a go-between for agents in the field by passing information between them and diplomats in the Russian embassy, he added.

Meanwhile, Putin has rejected allegations that he had amassed a secret fortune through corruption in the Kremlin, or that he had probably known of the plot to murder Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006.

"These are mere insinuations, total nonsense, and it is very hard to imagine that diplomats are spreading this like tabloids," Dmitry Peskov, Mr Putin's spokesman, told the Interfax news agency.

Peskov added: "If there are real diplomats behind these texts, it is frustrating and regretful that non-professionals are working in our country. One can only hope that eventually their professionalism will grow and they will stop using rumours as a basis for diplomatic correspondence." (ANI)

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