Fugitive Russian businessman says he’s been spied on in London

Fugitive Russian businessman says he’s been spied on in London
Yevgeny Chichvarkin

According to the former owner of Russia's largest mobile phone retailer Euroset, he was followed by redneck spies cracking and eating sunflower seeds.

The former owner of the Euroset mobile phone retailer, who is living in London, told the New York Times that he had been followed. According to the entrepreneur, he noticed he was being watched soon after moving to London. He was allegedly followed by a group of two or three men who spent hours near his house. Chichvarkin added that the men were cracking and eating sunflower seeds, which he believes to be characteristic of Russian lower-class suburban areas.

The businessman jokingly called the men "Stierlitzes" (Stierlitz is the lead character in a popular Russian book series, a stereotypical spy in post-Soviet culture).

Another Russian refugee living in London also complained about being spied on: Vladimir Ashurkov, executive director of the Anti-Corruption Foundation. He noticed he was being watched six months after he moved to the city. According to Ashurkov, a friend from Russia told him that intelligence officers had asked him what they had talked about at their private meeting in a London cafe. After that, Ashurkov spotted "men in dark suits" who were present at the meetings of "emigrants."

Both Russians say, however, that they feel safer in London than they do in Russia. According to Chichvarkin, Russian special services have limitations in the UK; for instance, they cannot use weapons.

The NYT author associated the growing number of Russian special agents in Britain with the poisoning of the former spy Sergei Skripal. Earlier it was reported that British Prime Minister Theresa May accused Russia of involvement in the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter, who are currently both in a coma.

 

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