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Russian passion of Scot accused of spying for Moscow in Berlin

David Smith is detained by German police
David Smith is detained by German police

A Scots security guard arrested in Berlin on suspicion of being a spy barely concealed his passion for Russia, it emerged yesterday.

David Smith, 57, who worked at the British Embassy, was held last week and is accused of leaking sensitive documents to the Russian intelligence services.

Now it has emerged that Smith, who was born in Paisley and married his Ukrainian wife Svetlana Makogonova in Ayr in 2002, collected Russian memorabilia, displayed the country’s flag in his living room, and drove a car with a registration plate said to be a nod to Russian history.

Smith could face 10 years in prison in Germany, where he is currently being held on remand, if he is convicted of selling information on British counter-terrorism to the Russians.

Details have also emerged about Smith’s life in Berlin, where he is understood to have lived alone after splitting from his wife several months ago. He had been under investigation by German authorities and MI5 for a month, and is alleged to have been spying for the Kremlin since at least November 2020.

But the former air steward appears to have made little attempt to disguise his admiration for the Russian regime. He lived in a two-bedroom ground floor apartment in the fashionable suburb of Potsdam, and was an avid collector of Russian military memorabilia. A Russian flag could be seen displayed in the corner of his living room along with East German trinkets and a selection of military hats.

Smith is thought to have worked for an airline in Scotland in the 1990s, and he and his wife also had a stint living in Crawley, West Sussex, close to Gatwick airport.

He and Svetlana moved to Germany in the early 2000s, and were said to have money worries. He joined the Germany Guard Service and spent around eight years working at an RAF base in Bielefeld, north-west Germany, as a non- military civilian.

Former colleagues remembered Smith as a keen metal detectorist with an interest in the Second World War.

An ex-colleague said: “He moved to Germany initially because he had a fascination with the war and would visit historic sites around the country, especially those that had some sort of Nazi background,” a former colleague said.

Smith later found work as a security guard at the embassy in Berlin.

It is alleged by German prosecutors that “on at least one occasion he conveyed documents he had obtained in the course of his professional activities to a representative of a Russian intelligence service. In return for his information the suspect received a quantity of cash.”