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Russia sends assassin to get double agent

world Updated: Nov 13, 2010 01:49 IST
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A contract killer has been dispatched to assassinate the Russian double agent who betrayed Anna Chapman and nine other spies in the United States this spring, according to reports in Moscow.

“We know who he is and where he is,” a high-ranking Kremlin source told the reputable Kommersant newspaper.

“You can have no doubt — a Mercader has already been sent after him.”

Ramón Mercader was the KGB-hired Spanish communist who was sent to kill Leon Trotsky with an icepick in Mexico in 1940.

The traitor was reportedly identified as a Colonel Shcherbakov, an officer of the SVR (foreign intelligence service) who headed the S directorate of the service’s US department, which controlled the ring of sleeper agents, including Chapman.

Shcherbakov is thought to have fled Russia three days before the president, Dmitry Medvedev, visited Barack Obama on June 24, 2010.

“After that, the Americans, worried that we would suspect a betrayal and start pulling our agents from the US, began to arrest them,” said the source.

The agents, who had been living apparently innocent suburban lives in US, were detained by the FBI in late June and convicted of conducting long-term “deep-cover” surveillance on behalf of Russia. The 10 were later sent to Russia in exchange for the release of four men jailed there for alleged espionage.