Duma to discuss British espionage allegations

Russia's lower house of parliament will take up allegations by the country's main intelligence agency that four British diplomats have been involved in espionage and have funneled funds to non-governmental organizations, news agencies reported Tuesday. Duma speaker Boris Gryzlov was quoted as saying that lawmakers were concerned by the allegations, made public Monday by the Federal Security Service, or FSB.

The announcement followed a state television broadcast, which purportedly showed four British Embassy staff using electronic equipment concealed in rock in a Moscow park to receive intelligence from Russian agents. He said lawmakers will call FSB officials to discuss the allegations when the Duma convenes on Wednesday.

"We are witnesses to the fact that not only are espionage activities being conducted in Moscow, but also that foreign secret services are financing non-governmental organizations," Gryzlov was quoted as saying by RIA-Novosti. "This situation troubles us," he said.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva, head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, one of the nongovernment groups that allegedly received money from British agents, warned the accusations could be used as a pretext to crack down on Western-funded groups that are critical of the Kremlin, reports the AP. N.U.