Intelligence is practiced by special services of many countries, but given the Russian aggression, more attention is paid to it – even if there is only one clerk left in the embassy, like in Rīga.
A European record is recorded in Moldova. There, on the roof of the embassy in Chisinău, Russia has 28 antennas. In Latvia, the roof of the Russian embassy is not that congested. Latvian Television took some pictures with drones and asked for an assessment by the radiocommunications experts, member of the Governing Board of the Latvian Radioamateurs League Andrejs Puķītis.
“A very interesting arrangement that looks like a little abandoned greenhouse on the roof where you can see something shining through it, which makes one think that maybe there are a few more antennas under it that are hidden from our eyes. Because such radio-transparent structures [..] may be used for some more hidden purposes,” said Puķītis.
He said there was still a satellite dish that could both capture and transmit data. What looks like a white mushroom could be an antenna for the global navigation system. There is still a wireless computer network or WiFi antenna. And also a TV dish that captures Kremlin channels, and an antenna for terrestrial TV.
But comparatively, in Latvia, this Russian embassy roof is not congested with a large amount of hardware, Puķītis said. In the Baltic States, the rooftops are probably less used because of the proximity of Russian and Belarusian areas from which spying is easier.
Forcing Russia to remove not only diplomats, but also equipment would be a violation of the Vienna Convention, and it has not been accepted on the basis of the principle that foreign missions are sacrosanct, according to foreign intelligence experts.
"These are things that come with diplomatic relations, and the interest of intelligence services, the interest of some countries, particularly the interest in carrying out intelligence under diplomatic cover, well, it is known. This in turn obliges the host country and its respective security structures to act, to see what risks are in a particular country," explained the Latvian ambassador to NATO Māris Riekstiņš.
The activities of foreign intelligence services in Latvia are controlled by the Constitution Protection Bureau. Its comment on LTV's question about the hazards posed by Russian equipment here is short - the obtained counterintelligence information on these types of hazards is regularly provided to the top officials of Latvia.
Currently, SAB has not identified security threats to the general public that could be caused by special technical equipment at the embassy in Rīga.