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Russian intelligence to study leaked U.S. cables

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Dec. 1, 2010, 7:20 p.m. | Russia and former Soviet Union — by Reuters

Reuters

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MOSCOW, Dec. 1 (Reuters) - Russia's foreign intelligence chief has ordered his spies to study U.S. diplomatic cables leaked by whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, local media reported on Wednesday. "There are many issues which have been revealed by the disclosure by WikiLeaks -- this is material for analysis," Mikhail Fradkov, the head of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), was quoted as saying by ITAR-TASS news agency.

"There is sufficient information for analysis and we shall report our conclusions to the leadership of the country," said Fradkov, a former prime minister who, as one of Russia's top spymasters, rarely makes comments in public.

The release of some 250,000 diplomatic cables -- many stamped secret -- has embarrassed the United States by laying bare the reports about everything from Iran to Kremlin politics that senior diplomats were sending back to Washington.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin -- Fradkov's old boss -- was characterised by U.S. diplomats as Russia's "alpha-dog" ruler while President Dmitry Medvedev "plays Robin to Putin's Batman".


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The leaked documents also name ordinary Russians who were speaking to U.S. diplomats in Moscow, something that is frowned upon by Russian officials, as well as Russian assessments of the military capabilities of Iran, North Korea and Pakistan.

Fradkov said agents would investigate who was likely to gain from the leaks. Some Russian lawmakers said that the WikiLeaks' disclosure was a conspiracy by foreign powers.

Fradkov and Moscow's other top spymasters are themselves grappling with a breach of security after the defection of the head of Russia's deep cover U.S. spying operations, one of the West's biggest intelligence coups since the Cold War.

Russian media has said that the double agent -- given variously as Colonel Shcherbakov or Colonel Alexander Poteyev -- was responsible for unmasking a Russian spy ring in the United States in June.

Fradkov told Russian media that "conclusions will undoubtedly be made" but that the SVR was essential for the security of the state "despite all the blows".

He said that people who did not meet set standards were leaving the service, code for sackings. Local news agencies said the SVR had appointed a new head of human resources, Yevgeny Kolesnikov.
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