City square hon­our for Rus­sian spy

The West Australian - - WORLD -

Moscow has named a square in the city in hon­our of British dou­ble agent Kim Philby, in a seem­ingly provoca­tive re­sponse to the Skri­pal af­fair.

Sergei Sobyanin, the mayor of Moscow, who is one of Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s clos­est al­lies, re­quested an ob­scure in­ter­sec­tion in the south-west of the city be re­named Kim Philby Square.

Res­i­dents were as­ton­ished the junc­tion was be­ing re­named af­ter Philby when he never lived in the neigh­bour­hood. A city hall spokesman de­clined to com­ment on the re­nam­ing.

The name change comes just weeks af­ter the GRU, Rus­sia’s mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence unit, was iden­ti­fied as be­ing be­hind the at­tempted poi­son­ing of for­mer Rus­sian dou­ble agent Sergei Skri­pal in Sal­is­bury in March.

British Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May has vowed to smash the GRU’s power and ac­tiv­i­ties.

Col Skri­pal, 67, was jailed in 2006 for sell­ing se­crets to MI6. He was freed in 2010 in a spy swap.

Philby is be­lieved to have been the most suc­cess­ful mem­ber of the Cam­bridge Uni­ver­sity spy ring that be­trayed MI6 and pro­vided se­cret in­for­ma­tion to the Soviet Union over three decades.

Philby was re­cruited in the 1930s. He died in Moscow in 1988 aged 76, hav­ing been awarded the Or­der of Lenin in 1965.

He lived in cen­tral Moscow, far from the windswept in­ter­sec­tion now named af­ter him on the out­skirts of the cap­i­tal.

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