January 28, 2008 / 10:56 AM / 13 years ago

Russia calls spy defector's tales "treachery"

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Revelations by a former top Russian spy who defected to the United States in 2000 amount to “self-publicity based on treachery”, Russia’s foreign intelligence service (SVR) said on Monday.

Former Russian spy Sergei Tretyakov poses with the book "Comrade J" by author Pete Earley in New York January 23, 2008. Once a senior KGB officer who says he was driven by patriotism, Tretyakov says he defected in 2000 because he lost faith in post-Soviet Russia and he's now ready to tell his story for the first time in the new book by Earley. REUTERS/Chip East

Sergei Tretyakov, 51, a deputy head of intelligence at Russia’s U.N. mission for five years, defected with his wife and daughter in 2000 saying he lost faith in post-Soviet Russia.

One of the most senior Russian agents to defect, he was resettled at an undisclosed location and has now published a book telling his story for the first time.

“We leave on Tretyakov’s conscience the so-called revelations made in the book,” the SVR said in a statement.

“In any secret service of the world using treachery for self-publicity has always been considered disgusting, and treachery is viewed as a criminal act,” it added.

Tretyakov told Reuters last week that Russian intelligence was just as active now as in Cold War times, adding that he hoped his book would act as a “wake-up call” to Americans.

He predicted that presidential elections in March would not bring any change in Russia, dismissing leading pro-Kremlin contender Dmitry Medvedev as a “puppet” and incumbent Vladimir Putin as a “KGB loser” because he served at a KGB office in St. Petersburg rather than headquarters in Moscow.

“In October 2000, Tretyakov, a Russian citizen, decided to stay in the United States after a making a written statement saying: ‘My resignation will not harm the interests of the country’,” the SVR statement said.

The SVR, the successor to the foreign intelligence arm of the Soviet KGB, said it did not intend to comment on the topic any further.

Tretyakov said in the book that his agents included a former Soviet bloc ambassador and a senior Russian official in the Iraqi oil-for-food program.

The book said the official used his position to manipulate the price of Iraqi oil sold under the program, which was meant to allow the purchase of humanitarian goods at a time of international sanctions, for the benefit of Russian interests.

Writing by Oleg Shchedrov, editing by Michael Stott and Richard Balmforth

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