One would assume that after the 10 members of the notorious "Russian spy ring" were sent to Moscow on July 9 (and the 11th disappeared in Cyprus), the number of Russian spies in the United States should have gone down. At least a bit. But it hasn't. As if produced by the skillful hand of a Secret Magician, Russian spies keep popping up — to the joy of people who're craving to derail recent improvements in U.S.-Russia relations. On July 13, supreme forces running secret operations around the world introduced us to the "12th Russian spy", a Alexey Karetnikov, who was arrested in Seattle on June 28 and was deported to Russia on Tuesday.
What do we know about Mr. Karetnikov? Not much. That he's 23 and is a Russian citizen. That he entered the U.S. in October 2009 on a valid visa and for the next 9 months, has worked for Microsoft. What else? That according to "one senior federal law enforcement official", "the FBI was monitoring the Russian almost immediately upon his arrival…"
Why? If something was wrong with Mr. Karetnikov, then why had he been granted a U.S. visa? If everything was fine, then why was he monitored by the FBI? Because he was Russian?
The above mentioned "senior federal law enforcement official" made it clear that Mr. Karetnikov "obtained absolutely no [classified] information." (And, to cross this "t", "was not part of the same ring." You know which one, don't you?). Instead, he was detained "on immigration violations because there was insufficient evidence to charge him with a crime." Which crime? Which crime would the FBI have charged Mr. Karetnikov if they had "sufficient evidence"? (If, I guess, they had enough resources in their Seattle office to send to Mr. Karetnikov one of their omnipresent "federal undercover agents posing as Russian intelligence handlers").
Now, let me get it straight. There are between 11 and 12 million people in the U.S., some of them low-skilled seasonal workers, who entered this country illegally (committing "immigration violations", so to speak). Efforts are now underway (a.k.a. immigration reform) to legalize them to the extent of eventually providing them with a "path to citizenship." And here we have a young Russian, capable enough to get a job at Microsoft at a time of high unemployment, who's being deported on vague accusations of being a spy. Is there a message out there that the FBI is trying to send to the Russian community in the U.S.?
As if sensing that somewhat wasn't adding up, the very same "senior federal law enforcement official" provided an explanation. Sort of. It turns out that Mr. Karetnikov "…was just in the early stages; had just set up shop." I love it! That means that if a Russian-American, like myself, isn't charged with spying, it's not because I'm not spying. It's because I'm in my early stages; just setting up shop.
(Speaking of "shops." We were told that Karetnikov was "just doing the things he needed to do to establish cover, including holding down a job." Russian spies, beware! Staying out of a job and collecting unemployment benefits is the best way to preserve your cover. Holding highly-paid jobs, especially in "finance and media", may send a signal to the FBI that you're setting up shop).
There are some encouraging signs, though, that we're done for now with creating new Russian spy rings (summer vacation season, I guess):
"Asked whether further arrests are possible, one official said U.S. law enforcement authorities are closely monitoring all potential espionage activity but added, 'I don't think there will be a 13th or a 14th arrest here.'"
But he spoke about this side of the Atlantic. Back in Moscow, some folks are working tirelessly on cloning additional "Russian spies." Here goes a staunch Russian "democrat" and the conscience of Russian "liberalism", Yulia Latynina, who suggested recently that people of Russian descent trying to improve U.S.-Russia relations — and they do exist – operate on the orders of Russian secret services.