VSquare, a Hungarian news outlet, said approximately 100 out of 252 Russian spies in Austria are spying under diplomatic cover who also operate in neighboring nations, with potentially many more under civilian covers, citing an unnamed “intelligence chief of a Central European country” who reportedly shared the intelligence in a closed-door meeting with other officials.

The reporter said the information was confirmed to him “by multiple government officials and security experts,” where one of them said the agents were “obviously not operating only in Austria,” adding that agents also work under other covers.

“An Austrian government official told me that, according to their tally, there are currently at least 252 Russian diplomatic workers – diplomats plus technical and administrative staff – at the Russian Embassy in Vienna and in the Russian permanent missions to the OSCE and the UN and its disarmament office.

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“However, this number doesn’t include teachers at Russian schools in Austria who also enjoy a certain level of diplomatic immunity, the Austrian official added,” the article says, adding that spouses of the diplomats could also be spies, which was becoming more common after the “mass expulsion of Russian diplomats in recent years.”

According to the Hungarian outlet, these included undercover agents working for Russia’s intelligence services: the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Military Intelligence of Russia (GRU).

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The judge said Gershkovich would be sent to a "strict regime colony," a Russian prison camp notorious for harsh conditions and strict rules after three court sessions in a secretive closed-door trial.

The reporter said both Austria and its neighboring nations were aware of Moscow’s spying activities, and Vienna had been facing pressure from its allies before expelling two Russian diplomats last week for actions “incompatible with their diplomatic status” without providing further details. 

The article says Slovakia is aware that Russian diplomats in Austria were spying on them, and Czech diplomats have been calling for a limit to free movement for Russians within the Schengen area to mitigate the risks.

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In February, it was reported that Ireland refused to renew visas for Russian diplomats over espionage concerns.

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