Malta's Security Services services have been alerted to possible Russian interference in local affairs, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said this morning.
The Prime Minister was reacting to a report published on Intelligence Online which said that the UK's MI6 and the US CIA were concerned about "possible interference" in Malta's election process.
The report suggested the Egrant whistleblower was part of a Russian power play.
Dr Muscat said the government had no evidence that the whistleblower, a Russian national known as Maria E., was linked to the Kremlin.
He however added that allied security services had warned their Maltese counterparts to expect retaliation for Malta's decision to refuse to refuel Russian warships heading to Syria back in October 2016, as well as the government's push during its EU Council presidency to accelerate the visa waiver programme for Ukraine.
Attempts to contact Russian ambassador Vladimir Malygin for comment were unsuccessful and staff at the Russian embassy declined to comment when contacted.
The Intelligence Online report claims that Maria E. shares an apartment with another Russian, which it named as Alex Zaslavsky, and that she now worked for a recently-incorporated firm, MTACC Ltd, which Mr Zaslavsky was involved in.
The online report claims that "MI6 and the CIA are highly concerned by what the Russian couple have been up to in Malta."
It adds that "some officials perceive it as a move to destabilise Malta’s pro-Western Prime Minister that comes from on high in the Kremlin, especially because it has occurred at a time when Muscat has been openly opposed to Moscow."
MTACC belongs to a Russian who gives his address as being in Grunwald, Germany, and an American, whose address according to the Company Registry is in California. A Chilean residing in Malta is given as a director of the company.
The Egrant whistleblower has previously said that she is married to a Greek national, with whom she shares two children.
The Egrant saga came after the Prime Minister's chief of staff Keith Schembri and minister Konrad Mizzi were caught with secret companies in Panama.
'Muscat has lost the plot' - Busuttil
Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil dismissed the claims as "totally ridiculous and absurd," saying the Prime Minister had "lost the plot".
"If this was true, the Prime Minister would have called a meeting of the security committee, which I form part of," Dr Busuttil said at a press conference.
Asked if he would be calling for a national security committee meeting, the PN leader said that it was the Prime Minister's responsibility to do so.
The PN leader said the dates mentioned did not line up - "did the Russians plan this a year before their warships were turned away?" - and accused Dr Muscat of self-importance.
"I don't think Vladimir Putin cares if it's him or someone else who runs the country," Dr Busuttil said.
Marlene Farrugia 'not convinced'
Democratic Party leader Marlene Farrugia said she was 'not convinced' by the reports, which she said sounded far-fetched.
She nevertheless said that the national security committee should be convened to discuss the matter.
“Once national security is brought into it, then a meeting should be held,” she said, adding that she would be discussing the claims with her coalition partner Dr Busuttil.
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