Lithuania has sentenced a Russian man to 10 years in prison for spying on the Baltic country for Moscow’s security services.
A district court in Vilnius found Nikolay Filipchenko guilty of espionage for Russia’s federal security forces (FSB) - the first time one of the agency’s officials has been unmasked and imprisoned, Lithuania’s state department announced, according to the BBC.
Filipchenko was uncovered while trying to recruit Lithuanian officials, working for the Department of State Security. He sought to find double agents, willing to install bugging devices in the Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite’s office and residence. He was arrested in 2015.
During his mission Filipchenko also used fake documents repeatedly and illegally crossed the border of the country.
Filipchenko refused to testify and did not answer reporter’s questions, Judge Regina Pocene said on Friday. His lawyer did not state whether or not he wanted to appeal the verdict or not.
The investigation into anyone that may have been recruited as part of Filipchenko’s operation between 2011 and 2014 is ongoing.
Lithuania is one of the few members of NATO and the EU that borders Russia. The country, alongside its other two Baltic neighbors, Latvia and Estonia, are among the most vocal opponents of Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. The Lithuanian President himself is one of the most critical leaders of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Since then, Russia and NATO have increased military maneuvers in the region, each side claiming their moves are a defensive response to the other’s reinforcement.
Lithuania’s southern neighbor, Poland, arrested one of its former military officers last year and found him guilty of receiving payment from Russia to provide intelligence. Following the annexation of Crimea, Russia’s interest in running intelligence operations in its former sphere of influence, the ex-head of Czech military intelligence previously told Newsweek.