Russia Accuses U.S. Base of Spying

This Friday, April 3, the United States was accused by the Russian state television channel Rossiya of using its only air base in Central Asia as a cover for a big espionage operation whose focus is China and Russia. The accusation came with the teaser of a documentary about U.S. intelligence ops at Manas base in Kyrgyzstan, which was aired in full today, April 5.

Officially, the base is used to supply foreign troops in Afghanistan, but when Kyrgyzstan got a $2 billion economic support package from Russia, they asked the U.S. to close the base. The request was made in February, and the Americans are, as things stand now, scheduled to leave in August. Obviously having to close the base would be a setback for the U.S., especially as it gets ready to send more troops into Afghanistan.

Map of Central AsiaThe documentary – simply called Base – reports that Manas base has a high-tech surveillance system hidden on the premises, which can “eavesdrop on the whole world – every fax, every e-mailed letter. Every call from a mobile or landline phone is being recorded and processed. Billions of messages are being intercepted.”

Following Friday’s clip, a U.S. defense official commented that the accusations are not only absurd but also conveniently timed to coincide with the revival of discussions between the U.S. and Kyrgyzstan over the base’s future.

The documentary accuses the U.S. of using the base as an intelligence headquarters “in a treacherous way, without being endorsed by the Kyrgyz authorities.”

In addition to showing a two-storey building with no windows – allegedly home to an advanced intelligence surveillance system at Manas, the film shows images of a woman who supposedly works at the U.S. embassy in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek but is in reality an undercover CIA agent. She is later shown dressed (read: disguised) as an older woman. According to the documentary, the Americans have a team of spies in Bishkek whose aim is to keep Kyrgyz counterintelligence in the dark about CIA agents operating in the area.

The film was made by Arkady Mamontov, who has a history of making accusatory documentaries of this nature. In 2006, he was responsible for tensions between London and Moscow over a documentary that claimed to show British spies in the process of gathering information electronically with a fake rock.

Rossiya is known to be the media outlet of the Russian government, so the fact that it’s chosen to air a documentary so clearly anti-American so soon after Russian President Medyedev’s first meeting with Obama has people wondering about divisions within Russia’s ruling class.

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Posted in: Movies, Etc, Spy News


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