Russian President Vldaimir Putin has signed a decree allowing Russian intelligence to have a new type of secret service agents - "foreign intelligence officers of the Russian Federation that are not part of the staff", but are involved in performing intelligence missions, the newspaper Vedomosti reports.
Information about such employees is now classified. According to the new decree, disclosing of such information entails criminal liability.
This is the first time such definition appears in Russian legal documents. Information about recruited agents or proxies who are not part of secret service personnel has always been concealed in Russia. Therefore, it is obvious that this refers to a new phenomenon that has arisen recently, writes the newspaper.
Presumably, mercenaries of the so-called Wagner’s private military company operating in Ukraine and Syria can be considered as "private secret agents". The newspaper’s sources believe that the military intelligence of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate manages the infamous private military company, the the Wagner Group.
Putin's friend Yevgeny Prigozhin is associated with Wagner Group. He also owns one of Russia's largest media holdings accused of being a “troll factory”.
On September 4, the Ukrainian Security Service published a list of 50 Wagner mercenaries who died in Syria in early February.