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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Obukhov Convicted Of Spying for British




The Moscow city court sentenced Platon Obukhov, a former junior diplomat, to 11 years in a high-security prison Thursday for spying for Britain in the mid-1990s.


Obukhov, 31, the son of a former deputy foreign minister and top arms-control negotiator, Alexei Obukhov, was arrested by the Federal Security Service in April 1996. At the time, he was working as a second secretary in the Foreign Ministry's North America department.


His arrest led to the biggest spying scandal between London and Moscow since the end of the Cold War. Moscow expelled four British diplomats over the affair, and London responded by expelling four Russians.


The case dragged on for more than four years while his family and lawyers tried to prove that Obukhov was insane and not responsible for his actions.


In televised footage from Thursday's court session, the pale, bearded defendant was visibly agitated. ORT and NTV television showed Obukhov, wearing jeans and a jacket, standing in the defendants cage talking to himself, praying, grimacing and rubbing his cheek and neck.


In an interview with NTV in July 1996, in which he wore a dunce cap emblazoned with a red star and mismatched socks, Obukhov said that he was recruited 18 months prior to his arrest while working as a diplomat in Norway and began active spying when he returned to Moscow six months later.


Russian media at the time reported that Obukhov was working on disarmament.


Obukhov accused the British secret service, MI6, of blackmailing him into spying by gathering "compromising material" on him.


In 1997, psychiatrists from the Serbsky Psychological Institute in Moscow said they found Obukhov to be suffering from "reactive psychosis," a mental disturbance he developed only after his arrest.


Obukhov's family insisted that he was ill from early childhood.


After an 18-month analysis, in April of this year St. Petersburg-based psychiatrist Yevgeny Krylov found Obukhov mentally fit and able to stand trial.


According to ORT, Obukhov's mother said her son was not on speaking terms with her because he suspects her of stealing the Nobel Prize from him. Obukhov used to write paperback thrillers.


Obukhov's lawyers said they would appeal the Moscow court's decision to the Supreme Court.


"The number of procedural mistakes during the investigation is just appalling," said lawyer Yelena Zabralova on NTV.


In addition to the prison sentence, the Moscow court also ordered a full confiscation of his possessions.