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‘Horror Without End’: Aide To Head Of Russian Space Agency Roscosmos Arrested For Treason

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'Horror Without End': Aide To Head Of Russian Space Agency Roscosmos Arrested For Treason

Ivan Safrinov (C)

Better a horrible end than horror without end

Russian state space agency Roscosmos just found itself in another scandal.

On July 7, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) detained Ivan Safronov, a former journalist (specialised in military affairs) who works as an aide to the head of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos. He’s accused of treason.

The FSB said that Safronov worked for the foreign intelligence service of an unspecified NATO country and had been handing over classified military information.

Roscosmos said that detention of Safronov was not linked to his work with Roscosmos, where he is an adviser to General Director Dmitry Rogozin. Safronov joined Roscosmos as a media adviser in May. He is expected to appear in court later on July 7.

“The Federal Security Service detained Ivan Safronov, advisor to the director general of Roscosmos state corporation, in Moscow. Safronov was performing tasks of one of NATO intelligence services, collecting state confidential data about Russia’s military and technical cooperation, defense and security and handing it over to its [NATO intelligence service] representative,” the FSB said.

Prosecution launched criminal proceedings on the count of state treason against Safronov, which carries 20 years behind bars. The investigation continues.

The TASS news agency reports:

Safronov was born in Moscow in 1990. He graduated from Moscow’s Higher School of Economics in 2010, obtaining a degree in journalism. He worked as a special correspondent for Russia’s Kommersant and Vedomosti newspapers and was covering military and military-technical cooperation as well as defense and space industries. In May 2020, Safronov was appointed advisor to the Roscosmos chief for information policy and was curating a number of Roscosmos programs.

Earlier, Safronov was involved in several scandals regarding the publication of supposedly sensetive data regarding the military industrial cooperation of Russia with other states.

For example, the TASS news agency reported that in 2019 prosecutors wanted to bring a civil case against Kommersant for disclosing an unspecified sensetive data in one of Safronov articles. The article, which remains unavailable, said that Egypt had signed a deal with Russia to buy more than 20 SU-35 multi-role fighter jets. Following the publication of the article, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened Egypt with sanctions if it went ahead with the purchase.

Safronov calims that he was forced to left Kommersant after he published an article based on ‘anonymous sources’ and speculating that Valentina Matviyenko, the chairwoman of the upper house of parliament, might leave her post. The speclations appeared to be false and the article was removed.

Taking into account the public approach of the FSB in this case, it’s likely that the security service has overwhelming evidence confirming the treason.

Just a few days ago, on July 2, Russian expert Vladimir Neelov, who has extensively written about private military contractors, was sentensed to seven years in a maximum-security prison for treason and transmitting information on training FSB staff to a German company.

“The press service noted that the military expert was found guilty under the Article 275 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (high treason). The court hearing was held behind closed doors. As the court established, the expert sold classified information on the training of FSB field operatives to a German consulting firm. The defendant admitted partial guilt stating to the court that he did not believe that the data he had handed over was secret,” TASS wrote on the topic.

Neelov likely did this from selfish motives in order to receive money from the aforementioned German entity rather than to ‘overthrow the Putin regime’ or other loud words that mainstream media outlets like so much. The case of Safronov looks similar. However, it’s possible that his actinos were even more destructive. The publication of data about the work for an intelligence agency of a NATO member states indicates that Safronov may have not only transferred classified data to the foreign intelligence, but also worked to damage the Russian interests through both the informational space and his access to the managing staff of Roscosmos.

The immediate reaction of so-called “liberal media” (i.e. hardcore anti-Russian media) working in Russian that rushed to defend Safronov is telling itself. They already described the situation as an act of ‘censorship’ and accused the FSB of manipulating the case in order to damage ‘independent journalism’ in Russia.

Apparently, in their view the term ‘independent journalism’ includes the need to work for foreign intelligence services to make money and undermine the Russian statehood.

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