Medvedev demands spy agency changes

Russia's president has suggested that changes to the country's spy agency are coming in the wake of this summer's arrest of agents in the US and a report that a top Russian intelligence officer helped capture them.

At a news conference in Seoul, South Korea, Dmitry Medvedev was asked about the report in the newspaper Kommersant. "There has to be an examination of this ... The relevant lessons will be studied," he said.

The arrests of the 10 agents and the subsequent news that an intelligence officer fled to the US shortly before have been an embarrassment to Russia's powerful Foreign Intelligence Service. Mr Medvedev confirmed the newspaper report, telling reporters: "As far as I am concerned, what was published in Kommersant was not news. I found out about it on the day it happened, with all its attributes."

The report identified the intelligence officer as Colonel Shcherbakov, whom it said headed the FIS's operations to place "sleeper agents" in the US. Such agents work under cover of civilian life rather than on attachment to diplomatic missions.

The newspaper said that he fled to the US three days before a June visit by Mr Medvedev to the country. The arrests took place less than a week after the visit, leading some Russian officials to suggest they were made at the behest of conservatives who wanted to undermine improving relations between Washington and Moscow.