U.S. Embassy Hires Security Firm of Former Putin Spy

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow has awarded a $2.83 million contract to a security firm founded by a former KGB agent who worked with Vladimir Putin and British double agent Kim Philby. A post on a U.S. state procurement site says Elite Security Holdings will provide “local guard services for US mission Russia,” which will include embassies in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Vladivostok and Yekaterinburg. Russian business daily Kommersant reported Friday that the U.S. embassy hired the firm after Moscow reduced the number of staff allowed in U.S., missions, prompting the U.S. to replace its former staff with personnel from Elite Security Holdings. The company was founded in 1997 by Viktor Budanov, a former major general in Russia’s foreign intelligence service who headed a KGB branch in East Germany where Putin worked in the 1980s, according to Kommersant. Budanov has said he also worked with British defector Philby. He has also been accused by one former colleague of teaching Bulgarian agents how to use poison to target dissidents.