On Wednesday, Jan. 28, a staff member of the Russian consulate in New York visited Evgeny Buryakov, who has been detained by U.S. authorities on charges of being an unregistered agent of a foreign government in the United States, at the federal correctional center in Manhattan where he is being held.
According to a representative from the Russian consulate, the conditions are “satisfactory.” According to Russian news agency Tass, Buryakov "categorically denies the acts and hopes that the lawyers of Vnesheconombank [where he was officially employed as the bank’s deputy representative in New York] will disprove the unfounded and false charges.”
Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called the arrest a “provocation,” and has called the U.S. ambassador to Moscow, John Tefft, in for conversations about the matter twice.
Tefft, for his part, has refused to comment on the spy scandal. During a Q&A with users on the Russian social network VKontakte on Wednesday, Tefft wrote, “I can't give a comment on the current investigation. However, I can recommend that you study the full text of the press release of the U.S Department of Justice, in which many statements are covered in detail.”
Meanwhile, the Washington Post and the Daily Beast have connected the Tass news agency itself to the scandal. According to the media outlets, Tass asked Buryakov and the two other alleged spies, Igor Sporyshev and Victor Podobnyy, for help in crafting three questions about the New York Stock Exchange, specifically about exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and Russia-related companies. While all three men face criminal charges, Sporyshev and Podobnyy are no longer in the United States and had diplomatic immunity during their time in New York.
First Deputy Director-General of TASS Mikhail Gusman commented on the accusations to Russian daily Vedomosti. Although Gusman admitted that Tass worked with employees of SVR, the Russian foreign intelligence service, during the Cold War, he denied that Tass journalists employed these tactics today.
"As far as I know, in modern Russia there is not this practice. These are remnants of the Cold War,” Gusman said. He continued, saying that “the journalist's profession consists in asking as many questions as possible. But a journalist differs from a spy in that he asks questions in a legal way.”
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