- The Washington Times - Monday, April 6, 2009

BISHKEK, KYRGYZSTAN (AP) - A documentary on Russian state television has accused the U.S. of using an air base in Kyrgyzstan to spy on Russia and China _ an allegation a spokesman for the base flatly denied on Monday.

The film, aired Sunday on the Rossiya TV channel, showed a building it said was used for electronic surveillance and identified a woman it said worked in the U.S. Embassy as a CIA agent.

Moscow has long been suspicious of the American presence in what it views as its traditional sphere of influence, and there are even some indications it may have pushed to have the Central Asian base closed.

Kyrgyzstan has ordered the United States to leave the facility by August, dashing plans to use it as thousands more troops prepare to pour into Afghanistan. The announcement of the closure came shortly after Russia pledged to give Kyrgyzstan more than $2 billion in aid and loans. Russia also has an air base in the former Soviet republic.

Of the accusations, Maj. Damien Pickart, a spokesman for the Manas base said: “It is all lies, it is false. There wasn’t a single point that I read about the narrative of the documentary that was accurate.”

The documentary showed a complex of windowless buildings at the base that its said required special passes to enter. The program said one building on the base housed an elaborate system of “radio-electronic reconnaissance.”

“At Manas, a station has been built that controls all of Central Asia and parts of China and Siberia,” the program said.

Pickart said the buildings are used as dormitories for troops posted long-term at the base. Reporters who visited the base in February said the buildings appeared to be used exclusively as sleeping quarters.

“Any media or government officials that would like to come to the base and see for themselves, go into those buildings that they showed, we will gladly invite them out,” Pickart said.

The program also shows a woman identified as Vicki Lynn Rundquist, whom it says is first secretary of the political division at the U.S. Embassy in Kyrgyzstan and an undercover CIA agent. It says she and a local contact scrawled chalk marks on lampposts to agree on meeting times for covert encounters.

The U.S. Embassy declined to comment on the report, saying it was not at liberty to reveal details about its personnel.

A Kyrgyz government spokesman said he could not comment on the documentary.

The film was made by Russian journalist Arkady Mamontov, who came to prominence in 2006 after producing footage purporting to show British diplomats exchanging classified information with local agents through a device disguised as a rock on a street in Moscow.

A year later, Mamontov claimed in another documentary that the CIA was funding Russian opposition groups with the aim of replicating the popular uprisings in Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan.

Pickart said Mamontov has not visited the base.


Associated Press writers Jim Heintz in Moscow and Peter Leonard in Almaty, Kazakhstan, contributed to this report.

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