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Firm founded by KGB spy to guard US Moscow embassy

From BBC - November 10, 2017

The US State Department has employed a private firm set up by a veteran Soviet-era spy to provide security for its Moscow embassy and diplomatic missions in Russia.

The move comes after Moscow ordered the US to more than halve its staff in Russia earlier this year.

The US has now signed a contract with Elite Security Holdings, founded by the ex-KGB General Viktor Budanov.

General Budanov was a close friend of British spy and defector Kim Philby.

A notice on the US State Department website shows the contract with Elite Security Holdings is worth more than $2.8m (2.1m).

A document posted online outlining "justification and approval" for the contract says guards at the Moscow embassy and other US missions were among the staff included in the expulsion order, adding: "The only option available, to ensure security services continue, is via a commercial contract."

It said the US government had contacted more than three US private security firms but had not found one "with the requisite licensing or desire to operate in-country".

"Due to the urgency of this requirement, the Department of State sought a firm with the requisite licensing and capacity to quickly stand up guard operations at all four US Mission Russia posts," it says.

"The number of firms that met this requirement limited the number of sources considered to one - Elite Security Services Holding Co."

The Russian daily Kommersant says Elite Security Holdings, founded in 1997, is now run by Gen Budanov's son, Dmitry Budanov.

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