Opposition Activist Revealed as FSB Agent

Alexander Novikov at a demonstration in support of Oleg Kozlovsky. Photo by Larisa Verchinova/Sobkor®ruA leading activist of the opposition United Civil Front (OGF) party has revealed that he is employed by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB). Alexander Novikov, who is currently in Denmark, told Novaya Gazeta that he “was tired of living a double life and setting up my friends.” He is seeking political asylum abroad.

Novikov explained how he first penetrated the OGF, the political party led by Garry Kasparov that has been outspoken in its criticism of the Putin administration. The FSB concocted a cover story that Novikov was planning to form an independent union of health workers. According to Novikov, he signed a contract with the agency whereby he was paid eight thousand rubles (€221 or $325) per month for collecting information on the party.

Novikov’s handlers were primarily interested in the relationships between members of the movement, and wanted to know who was closest to the leadership.

Allegedly, the information Novikov divulged prevented Garry Kasparov from registering as a presidential candidate. By Russian law, at least 500 supporters must gather to jump-start a presidential campaign, and an appropriate venue is required.

Yet the first conference room Kasparov had rented refused to host his “initiative group,” and the OGF scrambled to find another space to announce Kasparov’s candidacy.

Novikov said he reported each location that the OGF was considering to his supervisors. In the end, Kasparov could not find a space willing to host his meeting, and subsequently dropped his presidential bid.

Meanwhile, Russian law forbids planting agents into organizations that are not banned on Russian territory. According to the law on “Operational Investigation Activity” of 1995, this includes political parties, civil and religious groups, and other organizations that are officially registered.

Roman Dobrokhotov, the leader of the “We” movement, told the Sobkor®ru news agency that he could not remember one political action that Novikov did not participate in. He added that it seemed strange that an FSB agent would “shine” so much at the events. Still, Dobrokhotov noted that Novikov’s announcement comes as little surprise, and he is convinced that there are other undercover intelligence officers among Russia’s opposition groups. In Dobrokhotov’s opinion, Novikov likely confessed to his role in the FSB after he began genuinely sympathizing with the opposition.

Alternate spelling: Aleksandr Novikov