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Russian newspaper names colonel as source of info on spy ring in U.S.

From Jill Dougherty and Anastasia Anashkina, CNN
The Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) headquarters outside Moscow as seen on June 29.
The Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) headquarters outside Moscow as seen on June 29.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Report: "Betrayer" fled Russia days before spy ring on U.S. was broken up
  • Paper says colonel's son also fled Russia for the United States
  • Daughter has lived in the United States a long time, paper says
  • Paper says "Shcherbakov" was in U.S. facility where one spy was held

Washington (CNN) -- A colonel in Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service, identified as "Colonel Shcherbakov," gave the United States information on a Russian spy ring in the United States that was broken up this past June, according to a report in the respected Russian newspaper Kommersant.

Neither the U.S. State Department nor the Central Intelligence Agency would comment on the report.

The article says the man, described as "the betrayer," fled Russia three days before Russian president Dmitri Medvedev arrived in the U.S. for meetings with President Barack Obama, just days before the ring was broken up.

The paper quotes a source who says the U.S., fearing that the Russian intelligence agency would pull its agents from the U.S., rounded them up and arrested them.

The colonel's son also fled Russia for the United States not long before the spies were arrested, according to the paper. His daughter, it says, has lived in the U.S. for a long time.

The article in Kommersant says Shcherbakov, who was identified only by last name, headed up the branch of the Foreign Intelligence Service that oversees agents working abroad under cover but without diplomatic credentials, referred to in the article as "illegals."

There's no doubt that a Mercader has been sent for him
--unidentified source quoted by Kommersant
RELATED TOPICS
  • Russia
  • Dmitry Medvedev

"We know who he is and where he is. He betrayed either for the money or he was caught for something. And there's no doubt that a Mercader has been sent for him," an unidentified source was quoted as telling Kommersant. Mercader was an assassin sent by Stalin to Mexico to kill Leon Trotsky in 1940.

"He doesn't have an enviable fate," the source tells the paper. "He will drag this with him for the rest of his life and every day he will fear vindication."

The paper says that Shcherbakov was present in the facility in the U.S. where one of the spies arrested this summer was held. It claims he also took with him to the United States the files on one of those spies.

In July, 10 Russian agents were handed over by the United States in exchange for four Russian prisoners.