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Sources tell Russian newspaper that FSB agents leaked secret data to the FBI for 10 million dollars

The newspaper Kommersant reported on October 5 that former FSB Information Security Center agent Sergey Mikhailov and his three accomplices allegedly received $10 million for giving the FBI classified data about Pavel Vrublevsky, the former head of the payment services company Chronopay.

Mikhailov is charged with copying confidential files from a felony case in 2013 against Vrublevsky onto a compact disc. Mikhailov supposedly handed over the disc to his subordinate, Dmitry Dokuchaev, who then allegedly gave the data to Ruslan Stoyanov, an expert at Kaspersky Lab. Prosecutors say Stoyanov subsequently gave the disc to Kimberly Zenz, then an analyst at the U.S. firm Verisign, who brought it to the FBI. (Zenz has denied that such an arrangement ever took place.) A businessman named Georgy Fomchenkov allegedly performed Stoyanov’s role in a later hand-off, as well.

Sources told Kommersant that the charges against Mikhailov and Stoyanov (who maintain their innocence) do not mention the $10 million because investigators were unable to verify the exact amount of money promised to the conspirators.

As early as 2010, Vrublevsky started accusing Mikhailov and Stoyanov of leaking emails and documents seized from his company by the FSB, saying the latter was “feeding privileged information about important Russian hackers” to Zenz, who was dating one of Stoyanov’s colleagues. In January 2017, commenting on the news that Mikhailov and Stoyanov had been arrested on treason charges, American cyber-crime journalist Brian Krebs wrote, “Based on how long Vrublevsky has been trying to sell this narrative, it seems he may have finally found a buyer.”

In a tweet responding to Kommersant's report, Krebs wrote on October 5, “ I call BS on this story, and am willing to bet that [Vrublevsky] paid for its placement. These Russian cyber-crime fighters that Vrublevsky hates so much are on trial for their lives (literally) because they did the right thing in a country where no one does.”

All four suspects in the case have been locked up at Moscow’s Lefortovo Prison since December 2016. In April 2018, journalists reported that Dokuchaev and Fomchenkov signed plea bargains. Kommersant’s sources say both men will testify against Mikhailov and Stoyanov in closed hearings at the Moscow District Military Court. Dokuchaev, incidentally, was indicted by the U.S. Justice Department in early 2017 for his alleged role in the 2014 heist of 500 million Yahoo user accounts.

Dokuchaev and Fomchenkov reportedly claim to have shared information with foreign intelligence agencies only “informally,” denying that there was anything criminal about the exchange. Sources told the magazine RBC that they were only trying to help punish cyber-criminals operating outside Russia and therefore outside their jurisdiction. Lawyers for the two suspects refused to comment on the story.