This month, Swedish prosecutors dropped the other shoe upon Swedish citizen, Kristian Dmitrievski, charging him with espionage on behalf of the Russian Federation. Dmitrievski had been arrested by the Swedish Security Service (SÄPO) on the evening of February 26, 2019 while meeting with Russian intelligence officer, Yevgeny Umerenko, an SVR (Russia foreign intelligence) in central Stockholm. Dmitrievski stood accused of passing Swedish industrial secrets to Russia, from at least 2017, and his arrest was characterized at that time by SÄPO spokesperson Gabriel Wernstedt as “the result of a prolonged probe that took a substantial period of time and involved intensive intelligence and investigative work.”
About Kristian Dmitrievski
Dmitreivski is a 47 year-old, Russian-born, naturalized Swedish citizen worked for Volvo Cars and Scania (a truck manufacturer) – both located in Goteborg. His work provided him unencumbered access to Swedish defense information, analogous to U.S. defense contractors who have access to U.S. national defense information. While he was remanded to custody, in March 2019, he was released pending the filing of charges. Given the long pause, Dmitreivski may have been surprised to find himself facing espionage charges, which carry a maximum of six-years imprisonment in Sweden, almost two years later.
Dmitrievski’s espionage an information security nightmare
How did it come about? Dmitrievski was spotted, accessed, and recruited by the SVR officer using age-old human intelligence tradecraft and tasked with providing information to which he had access. The Russian’s also had a leg up: he was a Russian émigré.
His cooperation dates back to at least 2017, and Dmitrievski accomplished his tasking, according to the prosecution, by moving information from his work computer to his personal computer and then to a USB drive. Knowing that document access controls were in place which may register his copying, printing, or transferring data from one device to another, Demitrievski reverted to the equally old technique of document theft – photography. Though we don’t know if he used the infamous Minox-B, we do know that he photographed his computer screens, most likely with his smartphone. Another reason to prohibit electronics from areas where classified information is being handled.
Swedish prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist noted, “Russians place value on the information [Dmitreivski] provided.” For his efforts the night of February 26, 2019, the Russian intelligence officer Umerenko had just handed 27,800 Kroner (US$3,355) for the contents of the USB stick brought to the meeting.”
SVR in Sweden
Yevgeny Umerenko, an SVR officer who was operating under diplomatic cover, was briefly detained on the night of February 26, 2019, and then released, due to his diplomatic status. The Swedish Foreign Affairs Ministry summoned the Russian ambassador and lodged a formal complaint and directed Umerenko to leave Sweden. Russia, in an effort to stick a finger into the eye of the Swedish Foreign Affairs Ministry took its time in transferring Umerenko out of Sweden. It was only on March 19, 2019 that the Russian embassy advised that Umerenko and spouse had departed Sweden via a diplomatic consular section note.
SVR has and will continue to be active in Sweden and elsewhere as the Russian Federation’s appetite to acquire advance technologies is insatiable. SÄPO regularly advises their citizens via their web site on the threat posed by foreign intelligence.
Head of SÄPO counterespionage unit, Daniel Stenling, said via a statement acquired by the AP, “attacks on Sweden from other countries have been broadened and deepened in recent years. They are aimed not least at our economic prosperity and our fundamental freedoms and rights. In the last year alone the (service) has investigated both assassination attempts and illegal intelligence activities, and also espionage.” No doubt SÄPO, the FBI, and other counterintelligence/counterespionage entities in the west will be active in the months to come.