Powerful British forces working against Russia: ministry

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Russia said Tuesday that Britain's arrest of a young woman on suspicion of spying for Moscow confirmed that powerful British forces were working to damage bilateral ties.

The foreign ministry said it was willing to cooperate with the British investigation into 25-year-old Katya Zatuliveter, an aide to Liberal Democrat lawmaker Mike Hancock who was arrested last week.

A source in the ministry confirmed to the Interfax news agency that Zatuliveter was in fact a Russian national.

But the foreign ministry blasted the British media for sensationalising the case and "stage-managing a vaudeville show about the tired old subject of espionage."

"We have no illusions about the fact that Britain has quite influential forces that are not interested in seeing a normalisation of Russian-British relations," the ministry said.

The statement added that Russia "hoped" that Britain's declared intention of improving its often-difficult relations with Moscow "will be supported by specific action."

The British domestic intelligence agency MI5 said Zatuliveter was working for the Russian intelligence service as a "sleeper" agent, The Sunday Times newspaper reported.

Britain's diplomatic relations with Russia are only just emerging from an icy period after the murder by poisoning of the dissident Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006.

Hancock, the British lawmaker, has dismissed the spying allegations and said his assistant was planning an appeal.

© 2010 AFP

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