In July 2006 Moscow News writer James Scott emailed me having read this site from its mention in the Private Eye classifieds. He seemed uncertain whether he wanted to write an article about the case so I sent him a four page summary with accompanying CD, which essentially reproduced material from this website. He received the material from Robert Bridge of MN after some delay, which was followed by strange goings on which sound as if MI5 may have been playing sillybuggers in the Russian capital.
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2006 00:02:08 +0400
Your papers & CD are gone I'm afraid. Here's the full and complete story of what happened;
Last Sunday I met up with Robert Bridge. I hadn't seen him for months so we arranged to meet in McDonalds on Pushkin Square in town. They have a nice McCafe which has 'real' coffee. I arrived there first, sitting in a soft bench seat sipping my frothy coffee and tucking into a 'Ciabatta' (a toasted tuna sandwich). Bob showed up 5 minutes later and we shook hands (a custom we've taken from Russians)He went to get a coffee and I sat & continued reading our paper (MN). I noticed a rather attractive girl sitting opposite me with her friend. I had no idea who was sitting behind me. Bob came back & we chatted about the paper. He gave me your brown envelope containing some papers stapled together and a CD in a slim case. I thanked him as he joke about spy contacts etc. I briefly looked at the sheets of paper and put them into my slim black backpack.
Finishing our drinks we went outside to stroll down Tverskya street as it was rather sunny. We walked all the way down to the new Charlton Ritz hotel (formerly the Intourist). Bob asked me to look at some clothes in a shop window. As neither of us are remotely interested in fashion I thought this strange. He insisted that I look at the clothes as he said someone was following us. I tried not to panic, then Bob pointed out a man who had also stopped to look in a nearby window. We waited for about a minute or so until he moved on. Then we 'followed' him down the steps to the underpass/Metro. Again this man (about 45) was looking in the window of a 'Kiosk'. Again we waited until he walked off. He went in a direction that we didn't need so we thought we'd 'lose' him. I thought Bob was just being paranoid and tried not to worry about it. Anyway we walked off to the Metro.
In Metro station Ploshad Revolutsi, we said our goodbyes and parted. Bob went down one escalator and I down another. About half way down I heard running (i.e.footsteps)then the suddenly stopped right behind me. i thought this was strange as why would someone run then suddenly stop, on an escalator? I turned slightly to notice that the person was a youth aged about 23. At the foot of the escalator I walked forward about 100 yards (into the central hall) then stood in front of the overhead sign. I waited, only about 20-30 seconds)for the young guy to pass. He did eventually then I got a good look at him (but only from behind)He walked ahead of me them straight towards the steps leading down to another line. THEN he came back again, UP the steps pretending to be lost! I just looked at him, utterly intrigued. He looked at(noticed)me then walked through the arches onto the platform to the line which I also wanted. I walked through another arch and saw him waiting. A train thundered onto the platform and the young man turned to look at me. Everyone else, naturally, was looking at the train to see where the doors would stop (if you know what I mean - people jostle for position to get in the doors first to grab a seat) But not this guy. I watched him get on the train. He stood inside and held onto an overhead railing trying to hide his face but at the same time watching me. The train then left...with me on the platform incredulous at what had just happened. When another train came about 2 minutes later, I got on. Once on, I placed my foot on the door guide (on the floor of the car) before the doors slid closed. When the driver/PA announced "Careful, doors are closing!" I kept my foot in place until all the doors on the train had closed EXCEPT mine. I then swiftly jumped onto the platform again. I noticed actually noticed someone jump off but it was at the very front of the train - must have been a coincidence.
The next train I got on, clutching my bag tightly. 8 stops later I was at my station 'Sholkovskya.' I got off and again feeling a bit tense waited on the bench on the platform noting people but mainly looking for that young guy to appear. I walked up the steps to the shops and street. Very close to the exit is a Supermarket. I badly needed some provisions so I popped in. In Russian supermarkets you aren't allowed to take your bags in. They have to be left in lockers provided by the shop. This particular shop 'Petrutchka' has awful lockers, keys missing, doors broken etc. I took out of my bag my beaten up old Filofax and walked through the turnstiles. 10 minutes later I was in the queue to pay for my food. Whilst queuing I worried about my bag. I looked the number on my large key fob(31)and looked over to the lockers. My locker was wide open! I promptly dumped my shopping basket (while an old woman shouted at me for doing so) to take a closer look. Absolutely empty! I slammed the little metal door in disgust and cussed (in English) I ran outside to look for the young guy - nothing. I asked a couple of people if they noticed anyone with a black bag - then immediately felt stupid for doing so as everyone seemed to be carrying black bags. I told the lethargic supermarket security guard that my bag had just been stolen. "Again he said - it happens." Typical fatalist - Russian style.
Anyway Tadeusz, I lost some English books,tapes, my monthly Metro pass some cheap pens and of course your envelope. Thankfully I didn't have my passport & visa stolen as that would be a real nightmare! I carry photocopies of these documents.
I can't swear that the people who (in my opinion) followed me & Bob specifically wanted your disc and papers but that's what they've got.
Just before I met Bob, I texted him and mentioned he shouldn't forget to bring 'The MI5 stuff'. Maybe this alerted someone monitoring my phone messages.
This was a most unpleasant experience for me. I guess having anything stolen for you is. I don't live in fear of being burgled but whenever I return to my rented flat now, I always imagine that my door has been kicked in. I never had a chance to read or listen to your CD and to be honest now I don't want to. Well, not in Russia anyway! Strange really because as a teenager I was fascinated with spies and espionage and I think that was an underlying reason for me coming to Russia in the first place. But now I'm (or was) being followed I find it most worrying as I live alone.
If anyone else is reading this email I hope they realise I'm just an ordinary guy who lives in Moscow for his daughter and writes for the MN. I'm not a spy.
Sorry your stuff is gone Taduesz, I guess you're a very popular guy.
It's impossible to say with any certainty whether the apparent harassment and theft was due to MI5 action or not. MI5 have harassed me verbally lots of times and they've been pretty overt about it, but it seems a bit enthusiastic for them to try to spike an MN article by intimidating the journalist. Anyway, the intimidation if it was such worked, because Scott was put off and no article ever appeared.
I tried to email Scott sometime later, but his email address had changed.