Erich Schmidt-Eenboom: „The downfall of
Putin’s main domestic enemy has been a success of German foreign intelligence“
Erich Schmidt Eenboom is a
well-known journalist and a recognized secret service expert for Europe, North
America and the middle east. He is an author of numerous books to the
topic, among them, “the Federal Intelligence Service Schnueffler without nose"
(1993), “the Schattenkrieger.
Klaus Kinkel and the Federal Intelligence Service" (1995) and “Undercover.
The Federal Intelligence Service and the German journalists"
(1998), Also he is head of research
institute for peace policy - Forschungsinstitut
f?r Friendenspolitik (Upper
comments to Irina Borogan / Agentura.Ru / on very specific attitudes between
the Russian and German secret services which have developed during Putin's
your opinion about last spy scandal in Hamburg
when Alexandre Kuzmin representative of Russian consulate had to go home?
It is true, that chief of BfV personnaly visited chief of SVR Sergei Lebedev
for asking him to take away Kuzmin? What do you think why this scandal
can’t spoil relations between Russian and German secret services?
- During the
cold war Mr. Kuzmin would have been expelled as a persona non grata without
more ado. The reported fact that the chief of the BfV Mr. Fromm travelled
to ask for the withdrawel of Kuzmin shows a special relationship between German
and Russian intelligence services. But the relations are not as good as those
with Germany’s old Nato-partners because if an officer of the CIA or British
MI6 undertakes unfriendly activities in Germany there would be a secret bid to
take him away.
intelligence point of view the “scandal” isn’t a scandal - only business as
usual including the German-American attempts to recruit Kuzmin as a mole in
GRU. That’s why the relations can not be spoiled by a few isolated cases
especially if there is a political umbrella of strategic partnership.
relations seem to be very close. We see so many spy scandals in Germany related
to Russian intelligence (In october 2003 Germans found two GRU moles, September
2004 - Parliament Comission was looking Russian mole in BND after book of
Norbert Juretzko etc). But there is an impression these scandals don’t influence relations between special services.
For example in 2000 BND director visited Chechnya,
and it was very unusual, as I understand. In 2003 German counterintelligence
has warned about opportunity of acts of terrorism of the Chechen terrorists in
(and it was very profitable for Russia). What’s
a nature of these relations?
the relations between the BND and its Russian partners - code-named SEQUOIA -
are very good and getting better and better since in 1991 the exchange of legal
representatives in the embassies was arranged. At first there were some
irritations on the Russian side because Mr. Kretschmann, former chief of
station in the Netherlands
until 1982, in London
from 1986 on and the first legal representative of the BND in Moscow
wasn’t able to speak the Russian language. He was sacked in 1992 after failing
to foresee the coup despite the fact that he as a member of the liberal party
had the support of foreign minister Hans Dietrich Genscher.
Don’t mix up
the mole cases. In the case when Volker Foertsch (until 1998 head of the
security division of the BND and before for many years working against the Soviet
Union) was said to be a mole I do not trust Norbert
Juretzko - a former BND captain convicted for fraud. In my opinion an old boys
network (former KGB-general Yurij Dosdrov and others) tried to take revenge for
VIKTOR - the KGB colonel who spied for the BND with the case officer Mr.
Foertsch from the early 70’s to 1985 - and to disrupt the BND.
On the other
hand SWR and perhaps more GRU are spying in Germany
especially in the field of economic espionage with about 130 intelligence
officers. But the BND is doing the same in Russia
and the former republics of the Soviet Union.
Remember the case when Christopher Lez - a teacher from the
George-Marshall-Center in Bavaria
- in September 2000 was arrested in Moscow,
delivered to Minsk
and there sentenced to 7 years in prison for being the German head of a spy
network all over Eastern Europe.
So no side can blame the other for doing the espionage job. Despite strategic
cooperation the “Game of the Foxes” - as Ladislav Farago called the
intelligence war in the 40’s - still goes on and also all the rabbits between Portugal
try to play the same old game.
At the top level of the German and Russian intelligence services we
found in the same time strong cooperation and support including the German
warnings about Chechen terrorism you mentioned. And more.
According to the Paris
based INTELLIGENCE chancellor Gerhard Schr?der handed
a BND report to Vladimir Putin, when the latter visited Berlin
10, 2003. This report contained the results of an
investigation from the company IWR, which in behalf of the BND has been looking
for the money of the former East German communist party, which disappeared
shortly before Germany’s
reunification. During this investigation IWR stumbled across the name of the
Russian firm Avisma und the Menatep bank, main shareholder in Yukos. The report
also detected money-laundering operations by Platon Lebedev and Alexej
Golubovich, two cronies of Khodorkovski, and gave Russian officials the
opportunity to put Lebedev under arrest in July and jail his boss in September.
In this way the downfall of Putin’s main domestic enemy has been a success of
German foreign intelligence.
- Has BND
got any special opportunities in Chechnya? May
be Russian and German secret services have any special joint antiterrorism
At first, BND traditionally has special opportunities in Afghanistan
and some other Islamic countries which are important to analyze and fight
terrorism in Russia. For
example Al Zarqawi - deputy of Bin Laden and top terrorist in Iraq
- recruited fighters in a camp near Herat
for the rebels in Chechnya
in summer 2000 and bought weapons for his operations from Chechnya.
And Zarqawi’s accomplice in the Pankisi valley in Georgia Abu Ingila developed
poison and chemical weapons there for the use against Russians. So the main
German contribution to Russian counter-terrorism in Chechnya
is providing facts on former Afghan “freedom fighters” hired by the CIA in the
80’s. When Mr. Hanning - then and now director of the BND - visited Chechnya
in 2000 it was only the culmination of an ongoing cooperation.
the BND has some contacts to Chechen opposition groups in their exile.
Call it a
program or not: German and Russian services exchange information on terrorism
on a daily basis. Typically Mr. Kaundinya - from 1992 until 1998 the second
chief of station in Moscow
and now in New Delhi
- was after his duty in the Russian capital for two years the head of
counter-terrorismn in Pullach (Headquarters of BND).
- Btw, what
do you think, why Al-Qaeda cells used Germany (Hamburg)
as operative base for preparing 9/11? Not France,
where are traditionnaly so many muslims, or Italy,
but Germany? Is
it a problem of BfV?
- Not to
as current trials show. At the time of Cold war Germany was the host
nation for a lot of different Islamic groups: Algerians from the FIS, Persians
who fled from the Shah and then those who left the country after the revolution
in 1979, Afghan people from every wave after the political system changed there
up to the Hizbollah. There was a silent arrangement that they could use Germany
as a rest room as long as their activities are no threat for their host nation.
After 9/11 the situation changed not without some American pressure. Instead of
only keeping an eye on them they are now under strict control and some
- How do
you estimate level of competency of BfV now? I know in Cold war BfV was
very weak. Has this situation changed?
- In some
ways the BfV in its early years was a Disneyland-Gestapo concentrated on
anti-communist activities in every field from counter-espionage (due to the
moles in the organization without success) to propaganda (with some more
success in the domestic area). The counter-espionage experts checked which
postman might be a communist and they called it intelligence.
problems with the federalist structure of the 16 offices for the protection of
the constitution and despite the insufficient information exchange with
European partners by now the BfV seems to be successful in controlling the
domestic terrorist threat.
- You are
one of most respectable experts in Echelon problem and SIGINT, what do you
think, why this subject now is not so popular as
five years ago? What’s going on around Echelon and other attempts of
Western governments to introduce total listening now?
When the European parliament started the campaign against ECHELON supported by
specialists as Duncan Campbell it was an attempt to stop or limit the
activities of the anglo-saxon Big Brother. Governments in Western
Europe gave some support to these efforts because they
fear that it’s impossible to keep their own secrets - as seen in 2003 when the
National Security Agency tapped all communication lines of the countries in the
“victims” of the signal intelligence of the United
prevented by their own growing capacities and interests in this field from
taking legal steps on the international stage to forbid such activities.
Schmidt-Eenboom, your activity is well known in our country but we know nothing
about you personally - as example there are some rumours you are former Stasi
colonel. Is it true? Can you describe your biography?
I was born
in 1953 in northern Germany.
In 1973 I joined the German army and in my officer`s training course studied
Science of Education and History at the Bundeswehr university in Hamburg. After
12 years of service in some anti-aircraft-artillery units I left the army in
1985 and began to work for the Forschungsinstitut f?r
Friedenspolitik, a research institute of the peace movement.
various articles and books dealing with the strategy, infrastructure and troop
force composition in NATO. Since May 1990 I have been Director of the Institute
and concentrated my work on intelligence and security services in Europe, Japan
and North America.
amused to hear that some people argue I must have been a former intelligence
officer either in BND or in the MfS. That’s because they can’t imagine that
investigative journalism is able to find out so many secret affairs.
- You had
very active and oppositional position in Kosovo conflict and Balcan wars, have
you got any problems with German services?
I had problems for some years when in 1993 my book “Schn?ffler ohne Nase”
appeared and in 1995 the next book on the former foreign minister and BND
director Klaus Kinkel called “Der Schattenkrieger” (The Shadow Warrior) with a
main point on the Balcan wars and their secret past history. But all the
legal affairs with the BND and former BND officers have been without any
success for them. For some years now the problems of phone tapping and slander
are away and its possible to discuss affairs with
former high ranking BND officers.
- Have you
got any plans to publish your books in Russian?
- It’s my
publisher’s task to look for translation. In 2004 I published together
with Peter F. and Michael M?ller the book “Gegen
Freund und Feind” (Against Friends and Enemies) in the Rowohlt publishing
company. The work is the most comprehensive study on German foreign
intelligence between 1947 and 2003. I think its
worth stimulating public interest in Russia
and we are open for any offer.