The Kremlin-run news service linked to a Russian espionage ring broken up by FBI agents in Manhattan issued a blistering demand to the United States Tuesday: Quit busting our bungling spies!
The wife of accused spy Evgeny Buryakov (court sketch, inset) talks on the phone after his arrest for allegedly trying to recruit successors to Anna Chapman
The TASS News Agency published an article saying America should put “a stop to the string of provocations . . . unleashed” by US authorities when they foiled a Cold War-style plot that tried — and failed — to recruit sexy college students to seduce American officials for their secrets.
The spy ring was also accused of working with an unnamed news agency to ferret secret information from US stock-market officials.
That news agency is widely believed to be TASS — a former Soviet house organ that worked closely with the KGB.
Despite the link to the alleged spying, TASS acted like the injured party Tuesday, taking umbrage at the treatment of its comrades. It quoted Moscow as demanding “prompt consular access” to Evgeny “Zhenya” Buryakov, a member of the ring who was arrested by the FBI Monday.
“One gets an impression the US authorities have decided to resort to their favorite tactic of unfolding spy scandals,” TASS quoted Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich as saying.
“Due to Washington’s hostile stance, Russian-US relations have long experienced no easy times. Apparently, the United States follows ‘the worse — the better’ principle.”
Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara declined to comment.
Buryakov’s cover in New York was working at the Russian bank Vnesheconombank, while he was secretly employed by the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, the SVR, the feds say.
He and two handlers — SVR agents Igor Sporyshev and Victor Podobnyy — allegedly conspired to gather economic intelligence including information about US sanctions on Russia.
They also tried recruiting college students and other New York City women to serve as intelligence sources and replacements for ravishing Russky spy Anna Chapman, who was busted in 2010.
Sporyshev was caught complaining on tape about how he was not up to the task of recruiting the next Anna Chapman because when it came to today’s young women, “in order to be close, you either need to f- -k them or use other levers to influence them to execute my requests.”
Sporyshev, 40, and Podobnyy, 27, have moved out of the US and were not arrested.
Buryakov, 39, was denied bail by a Manhattan judge and remains in US custody.