How to betray your country for €500

Spy scandal exposes Russia’s methods of exerting influence in Slovakia.

Sergey Solomasov (right) hands money to Bohuš Garbár. Sergey Solomasov (right) hands money to Bohuš Garbár. (Source: Denník N video screenshot)

Welcome to your weekly commentary and overview of news from Slovakia. Russians expelled, Slovaks prosecuted for spying. Heger apologises for missing the train. Covid wave expected to crest again, but not because of refugees. NATO troop presence approved by MPs, some soldiers have already arrived.

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“Diplomats” expelled amid eye-popping scandal

The leaked surveillance video that the Denník N daily published last week must have come as something of a disappointment to devotees of glamorous spy thrillers: rather than dashing agent sipping Martinis in a casino, two very ordinary-looking men emerge from woodland by a roadside; the worst-dressed of the pair takes nervous drags on his cigarette and, in heavily Russian-accented Slovak and without any attempt to sugar-coat his offer, lays out the plan: you are a good boy, you love Russia, Moscow wants you to find people. These people should want to work with Russia, should want money and should have access to classified information.

His counterpart, a middle-aged man in cargo shorts, nods eagerly and, after being handed €500 in cash for himself and another €500 in cash for “a friend”, offers ideas for potential recruits, including – no less – the defence minister. This immediately prompts an ironic smile from the Russian spy. “That one won’t talk to Russia.” What better reference could Minister Jaroslav Naď wish for to put on his CV?

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