A TOP Russian secret service agent suspected of blowing the cover of a sleeper spy ring in the US was a heavy drinker who betrayed Moscow solely to make money, sources said.
Alexander Poteyev, who will go on trial in absentia for treason in Moscow on May 16, is charged with having tipped off Washington about a ring of 10 Russian spies who were later deported in the biggest post-Cold War spy scandal.
The Izvestia daily today published a slew of new information about Poteyev, saying he was linked to Russian defector Sergei Tretyakov, who died last year and had also managed to avoid taking a lie detector test.
A source in the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) told the paper the agency believed there was no ideology behind Poteyev’s betrayal of the spies, who included the notorious femme fatale Anna Chapman.
“He sold himself in the most banal way. Money and nothing other than money,” said the unnamed source. “He has two weaknesses – he loves money and loves drinking.”
“What damage he has brought to his country and his colleagues, just because he needed 20,000-30,000 dollars!
“We are all feeling a desire for revenge. He should be put against the wall. Today we don’t use the word traitor much but Poteyev is a real traitor. Before, such people were shot dead and rightly so,” added the source.
Poteyev – whose father Nikolai was made a Hero of the Soviet Union for his courage in World War II – had served in Afghanistan before working for the diplomatic service in the US in the 1990s.
On his return and until last year, he served as the deputy head of the US department of the SVR’s Directorate C – a covert operations agency involved in placing sleeper agents in foreign countries who try to pass off as locals.
He then successfully fled Russia just before being identified by the SVR as the traitor. He is believed to be living at an unknown location in the US.
Izvestia said it was likely that Tretyakov, one of Russia’s best known modern traitors who defected to the US in 2000, had told his new masters about the possibility of turning Poteyev.
Tretyakov died in June 2010 in Florida after choking on a piece of meat, by strange coincidence just before the spy ring scandal erupted.