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Respekt: New BIS chief Koudelka focused on Russian spies

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Prague, Aug 22 (CTK) – Michal Koudelka, who became director of the counter-intelligence BIS last week, focused on Russian and Chinese spies active in the Czech Republic in the last several years, weekly Respekt writes in its issue out on Monday.

As a good intelligence officer, Koudelka managed to leave no traces behind him: there is no mention of him in publicly accessible sources. The Czech public heard his name for the first time in July when Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka proposed Koudelka for the post.

Apart from his colleagues from the secret service, only those in whom he was interested knew him and it were mostly Russian and Chinese spies operating in Czech territory in the recent few years. From 2006, Koudelka headed a counter-intelligence section that focused on the activities of these spies. If they seriously threatened the security of the country, he interrogated them in cooperation with the Foreign Ministry, Respekt writes.

In the last five years, BIS expelled from the country 11 employees of the Russian Embassy suspected of posing such a threat. As there is no information about revealing Russian agents operating outside the embassy, experts believe that the Czech counter-intelligence is rather helpless in this respect, Respekt writes.

As head of this BIS section, Koudelka controlled operations in which allied secret services cooperated. This concerned the monitoring of spies whom the American or British intelligence followed for some time and whose arrival in the Czech Republic they announced to BIS. Informally, Western diplomats praised this cooperation with the Czech intelligence officers, the weekly writes.

The best-known operation controlled by Koudelka was the case of Russian spy Robert Rachardzo who worked as a prison psychologist but mainly gathered compromising information about high representatives of the Czech army.

BIS got information about suspicious phone calls from U.S. secret services, which led it to Rachardzo. BIS officers monitored him for some time and then tried to make him cooperate with them. Rachardzo did not accept the offer and fled the Czech Republic under dramatic circumstances in 2009, despite being shadowed. But BIS dismissed the view that it failed in his case, Respekt writes.

Koudelka, 51, has been working for the secret services since 1992. He dealt with international terrorism for two years and then asked to be moved to the counter-intelligence and focus on Russian spies.

Jiri Lang, who headed BIS from 2003, recommended Koudelka as his possible successor to the prime minister. Unlike Lang, Koudelka speaks English rather well and he passed two intelligence courses in Britain and one in Canada. Koudelka’s subordinates say his most typical characteristic is sticking to the rules and regulations.

In the only statement he made after his inauguration, Koudelka said his priority as BIS director will be struggle against terrorism, Respekt writes.

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