Austria’s submission of Russian national Igor Zaitsev to the international wanted list on suspicion of spying for Russia’s military intelligence against Austria is an attempt to revive the hysteria around Russian spies, the Russian Foreign Ministry told TASS on Friday.

“We deeply regret that there are those who seek to revive last November’s ‘hot topic’ about Russian spies in Austria, which we thought has been resolved with our Austrian partners. At least, all our bilateral contacts with the Austrian leadership have been held in this atmosphere in the recent months,” the ministry said.

“Notably, the accusations are worded in the notorious ‘highly likely’ style. Since such fakes are never meant to initiate a serious conversation, we see no point in commenting on them,” the ministry stressed.

Austria’s interior ministry said on Thursday it had put Russian national Igor Zaitsev, 65, on the international wanted list on suspicion of spying for Russia’s General Staff Main Directorate, formerly known as the Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU. The arrest warrant was issued by the Salzburg prosecutor’s office, which suspects Zaitsev of recruiting the retired Austrian colonel who was arrested in 2018 and charged with leaking secret information to Russia. Austrian police claim that the Russian national, a senior GRU officer, is suspected of coordinating the activities of the retired Austrian army officer to spy against Austria since 1987. 

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