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Here's what it's like to be approached by a recruiter from Russia's Federal Security Service


Natalia Gryaznevich, the press secretary for the opposition movement Open Russia (founded and funded by the former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky), says she was recently approached by a recruiter from Russia’s Federal Security Service. The man, who didn’t reveal his name, reportedly came to her door on August 3 with a bouquet of flowers.

“He was calm, he smiled, and he answered very gently and evasively, letting on that he knew more about me than I thought. He was constantly trying to give me the bouquet,” Gryaznevich wrote in a Facebook post on August 6. When they met up not long afterwards, the man claimed to work for the FSB, and invited her to serve as an informant for the agency. When Gryaznevich threatened to go public with the offer, she says the man hinted that such actions could “harm” her. “They might have dirt on you,” Gryaznevich warns her readers, “but don’t think that working for them will save you.”

Federal officials have questioned Gryaznevich in the past as part of the investigation into Yukos, Khodorkovsky’s old oil company. Two and a half years ago, police raided her home and confiscated all her electronics and documents. When Khodorkovsky was arrested in 2003, Gryaznevich was in the ninth grade. Since last year, Russian police have raided the apartments of several Open Russia staff, including online chief editor Veronika Kutsyllo, MBKh Media staff writer Zoya Svetova, and the parents of chairman Alexander Solovyov.