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Russian official accused of spying for Britain

After more than a week of tit-for-tat spy revelations with the United States, Russian authorities announced Tuesday that they arrested a top defense-industry official last month on charges of spying for Britain.

The announcement of an arrest made more than a month ago seemed designed in part to show Russia's new tougher-minded attitude toward the West, analysts said.

It also may be part of an effort by the Federal Counterintelligence Service to bolster its image after this weekend when, to the outrage of President Boris Yeltsin, it allowed the release from Lefortovo Prison of amnestied leaders of the Oct. 3-4 uprising in Moscow.

According to a spokesman for the service, which is a recently revamped successor to the KGB, a Russian man working in the defense industry was arrested Jan. 15 on spy charges.

He was caught with invisible ink and other espionage equipment provided to him by the British Embassy in Moscow, according to the Postfactum news agency. It said the man, who was not identified by Russian officials, confessed 10 days later that he had been paid by the British to give them information about new research into weapons and defense projects with international investors.

No reason was given for why the arrest was only being disclosed now.

Postfactum quoted Nikolai Golushko, who was dismissed by Yeltsin as head of counterintelligence Monday, allegedly in connection with the Lefortovo releases, as saying the man had caused Russia much damage.

The British Embassy said it had no comment. Russian television news did not mention Tuesday's spy charges.

A statement from the counterintelligence service said the man had worked on assignment for British intelligence for monetary reward and had handed over information of a secret and military nature. It did not say what has happened to the man since his arrest.

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