Mission from the Kremlin: find out about Latvian soldiers' underwear

One of the latest investigations by the Re:Baltica group of journalists gives new meaning to the phrase "new cold war" by revealing a spy was charged with exposing the secrets of Latvian military underwear.

"Yuri Stilve, who has been convicted of spying for Russia, was ordered to take pictures of petroleum product warehouses and a communications tower on the border, and to find out what kind of underwear Latvian soldiers wear," Re:Baltica's Inga Springe writes.

In August 2018, Stilve became the first person in Latvia to begin serving a sentence after being convicted of espionage. Two other suspects have also been apprehended by the domestic security services.

But James Bond or Jason Bourne this was not. According to his account, the approach his Russian handler made to him was a request for Latvian-Russian dictionaries, and even though one order was to find out what soldiers wore under their fatigues, the nature of intelligence gathering operations gradually became more serious, involving the placement of military hardware, fuel depots and the phone numbers of individuals.

Ultimately is was his surveillance of a new military communications tower that got his apprehended by the Latvian authorities.

You can read the full investigation at the Re:Baltica website.

As Re:Baltica points out, the Stilve case adds further evidence to the composite profile of would-be Russian spies: "the most common motives are money, the need to feel important and the opportunity to freely go back and forth across the Russian border to conduct their business without harrassment from Russian authorities." 

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