New details – Russian spy disguised himself as a journalist in Vienna

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New details – Russian spy disguised himself as a journalist in Vienna

The Russian Ivan Popov has worked in Vienna in recent years and is said to have diligently spied for the secret service under the guise of a correspondent for the Russian state news agency TASS. It has now become known that he apparently also committed this scam in Slovenia.

“Popov did not publish much, but he gradually came closer to the highest political circles in Slovenia,” is how the Slovenian daily “Dnevnik” describes him. He has been working in the country since the spring of 2018. The reason for his arrival was probably the announcement of early parliamentary elections in April.

He wrote about events in which representatives of the center-left government of Prime Minister Marjan Sarec, which emerged after the elections, also participated. In September 2019, Popov conducted an interview with the then Slovenian head of government, which TASS published before his visit to Moscow.

Hardly any messages from the Corona period
In the middle of the corona pandemic, Popow published less and less. The last report from Slovenia was published by TASS on its website in May 2021, according to Dnevnik. According to the newspaper, it is not possible to reconstruct in detail from the TASS reports what the Russian did over the next two years. In 2023 he finally became a TASS correspondent from Vienna.

Secret dossier warned about Russian ‘journalists’
The big shock came last March: a secret six-page file on the Kremlin’s espionage activities in Austria was leaked to the ‘Falter’. It warned that TASS employees were also spying under journalistic cover in Austria. It said there was a TASS correspondent who “has been working in Vienna since 2023 and is actually an employee of the Russian foreign intelligence service SWR.”

Austria responded, Moscow retaliated
The Alpine Republic subsequently revoked Popow’s accreditation, as did his TASS colleague Arina Dawidjan, who also worked in Vienna. The official reason given by Austrian authorities was that this was “due to a negative safety assessment”.

The revenge from Moscow was not long in coming: ORF foreign correspondent Maria Knips-Witting had to leave Russia. The journalist had been in Moscow since early 2024 and reported from there.

Source: Krone

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