Two of Moscow’s top cybersecurity officials are facing treason charges for cooperating with the CIA. The accusations further highlight intrigue to a mysterious scandal that has had the Moscow rumour mill working in overdrive for a past week now, and come not long after US intelligence accused Russia of interfering in the US election and hacking the Democratic party’s servers.
Sergei Mikhailov was deputy head of the FSB security agency’s Centre for Information Security. His arrest was reported in a series of leaks over the past week, along with that of his deputy and several civilians.
According to earlier reports in the Russian media, Mikhailov was arrested some time ago, in theatrical fashion, during a plenary session of the top FSB leadership: a bag was placed over his head and he was marched out of the room, accused of treason.
His deputy, Dokuchayev, is believed to be a well-known Russian hacker who went by the nickname Forb, and began working for the FSB some years ago to evade jail for his hacking activities. Together with the two FSB officers, Ruslan Stoyanov, the head of the computer incidents investigations unit at cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab, was also arrested several weeks ago.
Kaspersky confirmed last week that Stoyanov had been arrested and was being held in a Moscow prison, though it said the arrest was not linked to his work for the company. Interfax said four people had been arrested and a further eight were potential witnesses in the case.
On Tuesday, Life, an online news portal with close links to the security services, reported that FSB agents had searched Mikhailov’s home and dacha and found more than $12m (£10m) in cash stashed in various hiding places.