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Russian Embassy Denies US Spying Allegations

RIA Novosti

01:59 24/10/2013

WASHINGTON, October 23 (RIA Novosti) – Allegations of the possible involvement of the Washington-based Russian Cultural Center in spying activities are an attempt to derail the Russian-US program of cultural exchange and undermine mutual trust, a spokesman for the Russian Embassy said.

The Washington Post reported earlier on Wednesday citing law enforcement officials that the FBI was investigating whether the center and its head, Yury Zaytsev, were "clandestinely recruiting Americans as possible intelligence assets" through a Russian government-run cultural exchange program.

"All such 'scary tales' very much resemble Cold War era," Yevgeny Khorishko said. "It is a blatant attempt to distort and to blacken activities of the Russian Cultural Center, which are aimed at developing trust and cooperation between our peoples and countries."

The Russian center, located at Phelps Place in the Kalorama neighborhood of Northwest Washington, offers language lessons and cultural programs, including various Russian cultural festivals, exhibitions, concerts, and Russian cinematic events.

The center also organizes all-expenses-paid trips to Russia for Americans, including graduate students, business executives, political aides and nonprofit workers. For the past 12 years, the Russian program has paid for about 130 Americans to visit Russia, according to The Washington Post.

"The Russian Cultural Center has always worked to expand direct contacts between Russian and US citizens and it will continue this work in the future," Khorishko said.

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