A retired senior military officer who spied for Russia for almost 20 years has been arrested in Austria. 

Ex-Austrian colonel accused of being  a spy

 The retired army colonel who is 70 years old allegedly supplied information to the GRU, the Russian military intelligence agency accused of being behind the Novichok attack, on weapons systems as well as political issues such as the situation regarding refugees and migrants in the country.

 Austria’s governing coalition includes the pro-Moscow Freedom Party one of whose members, Foreign Minister Karin Kneissi, was photographed dancing with Vladimir Putin who was a guest at her wedding in August.

 At the instructions of the head of the government, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Ms Kneissi cancelled a planned visit to Moscow and summoned the Russian charge d’affaires in Vienna to formally protest over the alleged spying.

 Austria was one of a few Western states which did not expel Russian embassy staff following the attempted assassination of former agent Sergei Skripal, which Moscow has denied involvement in.

The information leading to the colonel's arrest came, said the government, from an allied intelligence service “a few weeks ago.”.

 Putin adheres Austrian minister, Karin Kneissl's wedding According to government officials, the colonel, who has not been named, was in contact with a Russian intelligence official called “Juri” and information was sent by satellite equipment or code in return for payments which came to €300,000 (£260,000).

  “For the moment we are demanding transparent information from the Russian side.... If the suspicion is confirmed, such cases do not improve relations between Russia and the European Union''Kurt'z said.

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