Saturday, November 9, 2013

Britain’s and Russia’s special services are thawing their relationship after six years of frosty tensions – in the interests of Sochi security.

MI6 in from the cold? UK and Russia confirm they will share Sochi intel

Published time: November 08, 2013 17:33

MI6 building in London (Reuters / Toby Melville)
MI6 building in London (Reuters / Toby Melville)

As Russian Olympic officials work to ensure the ski slopes are cold enough for the 2014 Winter Games, Britain’s and Russia’s special services are thawing their relationship after six years of frosty tensions – in the interests of Sochi security.
In a parliamentary hearing Thursday, John Sawers, the head of MI6, said that British intelligence services are passing the experience they gained from the 2012 Summer Olympics in London to Russia for the Sochi Games.
"We passed the Olympic flame on from London to Sochi, and we have a certain responsibility there, and we will take it forward step-by-step," Sawers said.
The confirmation that MI6 will cooperate fully with their Russian counterparts on counter-terrorism measures for Sochi comes as Moscow and London have started sharing secret intelligence for the first time in more than six years. Relations between the two countries’ special services nosedived after the infamous scandal involving the death in London of former Russian agent Aleksandr Litvinenko in late 2006 rocked the international community.
Intelligence cooperation between Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) and Britain’s MI6 was halted after Litvinenko’s death. He was fatally poisoned with the radioactive agent Polonium-210, and mutual recriminations about who was responsible for his death soured relations between the two agencies.
After six years of strained relations, London and Moscow will be exchanging security information to ensure that the Winter Olympics, which run February 7-23 in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, go off without a hitch, a member of the State Duma Committee on Security and Anti-corruption, the former head of the FSB Nikolai Kovalev, said Friday.
Kovalev said that as the terrorists, despite language barriers and differences in banking systems, "act in coordination," so should the world’s security services.
The intelligence community “is torn apart by internal contradictions, we suspect each other, we cannot take any joint action,” Kovalev said. “It should be cooperative work of all the intelligence agencies of the world, which should take care of the athletes, and in general ensure the safety of [the Olympics]."
Amid the mistrust which arose following the spying scandal concerning the US National Security Agency’s surveillance of EU leaders and its cooperation with Britain’s GCHQ, London’s decision to offer full cooperation over Sochi was expected, and is the right one, Kovalev said.
“This is the right and the long-awaited decision made by the British, especially amid the mistrust which has risen in the European community after the scandal surrounding the activities of the NSA."

from: us russia relations - Google News

British and Russian Intelligence Services Resume Collaboration

MI6 Chief John Sawers at the parliamentary hearing on Thursday.
YouTube / Truthloader
MI6 Chief John Sawers at the parliamentary hearing on Thursday.
Britain has started sharing intelligence information with Russia for the first time since the fallout over the death of former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko in an effort to assist security preparations for the Sochi Winter Olympics, a top MI6 official said.
With Russia hosting the Winter Olympics in February, British intelligence services are exchanging some of the experience they gained from the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, MI6 chief Sir John Sawers told a committee of British lawmakers Thursday.
"We passed the Olympic flame on from London to Sochi, and we have a certain responsibility there, and we will take it forward step by step," Sawers said.
Sawers said there had been a "gap" in which the Russian and British intelligence services didn't talk to each other about intelligence matters due to the acrimony caused by Litvinenko's death and the investigations that followed it.
The British government "took a series of measures" after former Federal Security Services (FSB) agent Litvinenko died in London in 2006 from polonium poisoning, but the Russian authorities have not sufficiently cooperated with Britain on the case, Sawers said.
Litvinenko said that the Russian authorities had plotted to kill late tycoon Boris Berezovsky, and accused the FSB of organizing a series of Russian apartment building bombings that prompted the start of the second Chechen War in 1999. Litvinenko fled to Britain and sought asylum in 2000, after a series of criminal charges were leveled against him in Russia.
The circumstances of his poisoning remain unknown, though two Russian former secret service agents who met with him in a London restaurant hours before he fell ill have been suspected.

Security documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden have helped al-Qaida and other terrorist groups by impelling them to change the way they communicate, said Sir Iain Lobban, director of the Government Communications Headquarters, who also gave evidence at Thursday's meeting.
Foiling terrorist plans will become "far, far harder" in the following years, Lobban said.
Terrorists are "rubbing their hands with glee" and "lapping it up," Sawers said, also referring to Snowden's decision to divulge information to the media.
The security chiefs were unwilling to explain how the leaks could damage their organizations' effectiveness in greater detail, only saying that much of their success rests upon terrorists not knowing what security services are doing.

Read more:
The Moscow Times 

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