Moscow will respond in kind to Lithuania's pardon of Russian spies: Spy chief

File photo: Sergei Naryshkin, Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR).  Photograph:( AFP )

AFP Moscow, Russia Nov 15, 2019, 04.40 PM (IST)

Moscow will respond in kind after Lithuania pardoned two Russians jailed for espionage, the head of Russia's foreign intelligence agency said Friday.

"According to my information, it is reciprocal measures," Sergei Naryshkin, director of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) told Russian news agencies in response to a question about Moscow's reaction.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda on Friday pardoned two Russians jailed by Vilnius in 2017 for espionage, Nikolai Filipchenko and Sergei Moiseyenko.

The pair could be exchanged for two Lithuanian citizens, Yevgeny Mataitis and Aristidas Tamosaitis, convicted in 2016 of spying in Russia, the Baltic News Service said.

The two Lithuanians were sentenced in Russia for allegedly passing Russian military intelligence to Lithuania.

Lithuania and its fellow Baltic states Estonia and Latvia have strained relations with neighbouring Russia.

A Norwegian, Frode Berg, convicted of spying and jailed in Russia could also be part of the spy swap, the BNS said, quoting senior officials who requested anonymity.

Story highlights

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda on Friday pardoned two Russians jailed by Vilnius in 2017 for espionage, Nikolai Filipchenko and Sergei Moiseyenko.