Russia detains French NGO employee in Moscow on spying costs | EUROtoday

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Russia has arrested a French NGO employee on suspicion of spying on its navy, a transfer that’s more likely to additional pressure already frought relations with Paris.

The Russian authorities claimed, with out offering proof, that the Frenchman was concerned within the “targeted collection of information in the field of military-technical activities of the Russian Federation”. They have launched a felony case towards him for allegedly violating the nation’s regulation requiring any individual receiving international help to register as a “foreign agent”.

“Such information, if obtained by foreign sources, may be used against the security of the state,” it added.

Moscow didn’t identify the Frenchman, who was detained at a restaurant, however the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue recognized him as its worker Laurent Vinatier.

The NGO, which is predicated in Geneva and works to stop and resolve armed conflicts via mediation and discreet diplomacy, stated it was attempting to safe Mr Vinatier’s launch.

“We are aware that Laurent Vinatier, an adviser at the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, has been detained in Russia,” the NGO stated in an announcement to AFP information company.

”We are working to get extra particulars of the circumstances and to safe Laurent’s launch.”

Mr Vinatier faces as much as 5 years in jail if convicted.

His LinkedIn profile describes Mr Vinatier as a “conversationalist” and reveals that he has labored on the Geneva NGO for over a decade, focusing totally on former Soviet republics, Turkey and the Middle East.

The French international ministry stated it was conscious of the arrest of a citizen and that its embassy in Moscow had requested consular safety for him.

“It is one of our citizens working for a Swiss NGO,” French president Emmanuel Macron advised a TV station on Thursday night. “It was in no way someone who was working for France.”

“We will follow this closely and he will receive all consular protection.”

Mr Vinatier’s arrest got here at a low-point for relations between Russia and France, most notably after Mr Macron’s repeated statements that his nation wouldn’t rule out deploying troops in Ukraine.

Moscow has warned that French troops, together with non-combatant navy trainers despatched to help Ukrainian bases, could be reputable targets for Russia in the event that they have been despatched to Ukraine.

Activists have criticised the brand new Russian regulation requiring anybody receiving international help as a international agent.

The Kremlin’s critics have denounced the regulation and related newly enacted laws as an try by Moscow to crack down on impartial media and political activism.

Russia has made a number of arrests of individuals it describes as alleged spies for the reason that Ukraine in February 2022.

Evan Gershkovich, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, was arrested on espionage costs in March 2023, and Alsu Kurmasheva, a Russian-American journalist, was held in late 2023 for failing to register as a “foreign agent”. Both have strongly denied any wrongdoing, and say they have been engaged in regular journalistic actions.

Additional reporting by companies