20-year-old gamer allegedly a Russian spy   

In early November, the Estonian Internal Security Service detained a 20-year-old Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) agent who tried to attack Estonian authorities. Fortunately, he was stopped before he could do any damage. 

Marta Tuul
Marta Tuul Eesti Ekspress, Estonia
Source: Eesti Ekspress
20-year-old gamer allegedly a Russian spy    - NewsMavens
Laptop computer. Negativespace.co/Pexels (CC0)

Why this story matters:

On the first weekend of November (the exact date is still unknown), the Estonian International Security Service took custody of a 20-year-old Russian citizen, Alexei Vasiliev. He was detained at the border between Estonia and Russia, in the city of Narva.

Estonia is known for being IT-savvy. We have e-tax, e-health, e-government and we are one of the few countries where voting takes place online. But by being pioneers in technology, we have also put ourselves at risk. Cyber attacks against Estonia are frequent.

In April 2007, ethnic Russians in Estonia rioted over the relocation of the Bronze Soldier of Tallinn, a Soviet World War II memorial. Many ethnic Estonians saw the Bronze Soldier as a symbol of Soviet occupation and repression, but it was of significant value to Estonia's Russian community, symbolizing not only Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War II but also Russian Estonians' claim to equal rights in Estonia. 

It is possible that the conflict prompted a wave of Russian cyber crime  as a form of retaliation; the Estonian government noted a record number of attacks in 2007. But since no suspects were identified, there was no one to prosecute.

Now, on the other hand, there is someone to blame -- an exceptional occurrence when it comes to Russian cyber-attacks.The Estonian Internal Security Service has evidence that Vasiliev tried to commit a crime against the Estonian government.

The 20-year-old alleged FSB agent is a talented IT student and an enthusiastic gamer. He goes by the alias alex3ame and his online games of predilection are CS:GO -- which he has spent 950 hours playing -- and Dota 2 -- 4063 hours.

Russian media writes that the young agent is from the town of Leningrad Kingissepa and that the Russian consul in Estonia is currently overseeing the case. Between the ages of 16 and 19, he studied at an Estonian school in Sillamäe and had a residence permit.

Details from the story:

  • Alexei Vasiliev, a 20-year-old IT student, is suspected of being an FSB agent.
  • In early November he tried to attack Estonian state authorities.
  • He was caught at the border between Estonia and Russia, in Narva.
  • Vasiliev is a fan of online games like CS: GO and Dota 2.
  • He is accused of preparing a nonviolent act, a cyber attack.
  • If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.

Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

The information and views set out on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

NewsMavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. NewsMavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund.
Is something happening in your country that Newsmavens should cover?
Zuzanna Ziomecka
Zuzanna Ziomecka EDITOR IN CHIEF
Lea Berriault-Jauvin
Lea Berriault Managing Editor
Jessica Sirotin
Jessica Sirotin EDITOR
Ada Petriczko
Ada Petriczko EDITOR
Gazeta Wyborcza, Agora SA Czerska 8/10 00-732, Warsaw Poland
The e-mail addresses provided above are not intended for recruitment purposes. Messages concerning recruitment will be deleted immediately. Your personal data provided as part of your correspondence with Zuzanna,Lea, Jessica and Ada will be processed for the purpose of resolving the issue you contacted us about. The data provided in your email is controlled by Agora S.A. with its registered office in Warsaw Czerska 8/10 Street (00-732). You can find more information about the processing and protection of your personal data at https://newsmavens.com/transparency-policy