Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said on Monday it had prevented a former security services official and a private detective from illegally gathering information about the private lives of senior government officials, including the use of unlawful telephone tapping.
“A search was carried out in the homes and workplaces of (former security service employee) A. Yu. Smirnov and (private detective) A. V. Mikhailenko and also the premises of the Belgan private security firm,” the FSB said.
Illegal firearms and explosives were discovered in the course of the search, the FSB said.
The FSB did not identify the top officials allegedly having their telephone conversations tapped.
The FSB is investigating possible violations of Russia’s legal code under Articles 137 and 138, covering “breaches of confidential communications, telephone conversations, post, telegraphic or other messages,” which are punishable by sentences of up to four years in jail.
RIA Novosti could not get a comment from Belgan, other than “no one is in the office now, call later and maybe someone will be in.”
Belgan was set up in 1997 on the basis of the security department of the official dealer of Panasonic. At the time of its establishment the Belgan company included the Belgan, Stard and Grinval security companies.
Among the clients listed on Belgan’s website are objects of the Presidential Admnistration, including at Zhukovsk in the Moscow Region, Gorky 6, Maslovo, and the villages of Uspensky, Petrovo-Dalny and the Rublovo-Uspensky health center. Its other clients include industrial enterprises, educational institutes, housing complexes, offices and entertainment businesses.
“At the moment we are undertaking further investigations,” the FSB said.