On December 5, British security detained Katya Zatuliveter, also known as the “British Anne Champan.” Anne, or Anya, was a redheaded Russian spy arrested in the U.S. and sent back home packing—to a meeting with Vladimir Putin, which led to a lucrative career on Russian TV.
Now, it’s Katya’s turn: According to the British counterintelligence and security service MI5, Zatuliveter, allegedly a Russian spy, worked in the office of Mike Hancock, a Liberal Democrat MP. Zatuliveter is about to be deported from the United Kingdom on charges of having links to the Russian foreign intelligence service known as SVR, formerly the First Chief Directorate of the KGB.
According to MI5, Zatuliveter, a national of the Russian Federation, is the so-called “sleeper agent.” She had been well-positioned in Hancock’s office, which has access to sensitive information about the U.K.’s nuclear deterrent due to Hancock’s membership in the House of Commons Defense Select Committee. She is suspected of sending the information back to Moscow. The Russian embassy in London did not deny allegations of Zatuliveter’s intelligence activities.
Consequentially, the British government will need to think more about its parliamentary security. The fact that Hancock hired a Russian assistant, even with a British master’s degree, is a sign that Russian citizenship does not interfere with getting a job that provides access to information on U.K. national security.
Historically, Her Majesty’s security service left MPs alone, causing them to be not too interested in the service itself, its budgets, expenditures, or operations. Because of this almost cozy relationship, parliamentarians could hire suspicious aliens. And it is quite possible that people recruited by the KGB at Oxford and Cambridge in 1930s for ideological reasons later became members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
Hancock had obvious sympathy for Moscow. After the murder of former Russian security officer Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 in London, Hancock called for a softer response despite the Kremlin’s refusal to extradite Litvinenko’s assassin. Incidentally, it is possible that specific queries asked by Hancock in the recent weeks related to the U.K.’s classified defense components may have something to do with Russian beauties.
Thus, in June, Hancock asked about the project Hydrus, an important part of the U.K.’s nuclear weapons in which almost everything is top secret. In October, Hancock inquired about the number of berths for Royal Navy submarines domestically and abroad and the details of construction projects. Hancock also repeatedly tried to find out more about the British military presence in Gibraltar and asked for government data on Britain’s nuclear arsenal.
Even before the scandal with Zatuliveter, it was clear that a significant number of Russian citizens in London are of clear value to Moscow. The main question for the British government in the aftermath of the Katya affair is how to ensure a higher level of security in Parliament and a more careful selection of its potential employees.
More broadly, Russian espionage activities against the West using deep penetration agents, “sleepers,” and “honey traps” demonstrate that the old think is still alive and well in the Kremlin. This aggressive spying casts serious doubts on sustainability of the “reset” policy—both in the U.K. and here in the U.S.