Contrary to the claim, the Colombian authorities have no doubt about the role of the Russian diplomats expelled from the country on December 8, 2020. Colombian media based their reporting on investigations carried out by the intelligence services of their own country, who provided their results (in Spanish) to some of them, such as El Tiempo and Semana, and even granted them interviews (in Spanish).
According to a Colombian intelligence report reviewed by Colombian newspaper El Tiempo (in Spanish), Aleksandr Paristov was positively identified by the allied intelligence services of the US and UK as a member of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence (SVR). The same publication stated that Colombia’s National Direction of Intelligence (DNI) identified the other man, Aleksandr Nikolayevich Belousov, as a member of Russia’s Military Intelligence (GRU).
Colombian president Iván Duque refused to reveal more information at this point because it “would not correspond with the principle of continuing bilateral relations”. The formula used by Colombia’s Foreign Minister Claudia Blum stating that the Russians were carrying out “activities incompatible with the dispositions of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations” is a well-established diplomatic euphemism to refer to espionage.
Colombian publication Semana also obtained a long dossier (in Spanish) prepared by the DNI on the so-called Operation Enigma, a two-year surveillance operation on both Russian citizens, which included hours of recordings and pictures of their movements and contacts. Their activities, according to Semana, included “military and intelligence tactics used by spies”, such as frequent changes of cars and clothes during their movements or long rides of 5 and 6 hours to avoid surveillance. They also tried to spy on Colombia’s military intelligence.
Colombian authorities are also preparing to prosecute their nationals that provided sensitive information to the Russians on grounds of treason, something that wouldn’t happen if, as the disinformation piece states, these activities “by no means qualify as espionage”.
See other examples of disinformation narratives about Russia being falsely accused, such as allegations that neither the US Intelligence Committee report nor the Mueller report found any evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 US elections, that there is no proof that Russia tried to influence in the Brexit referendum or about the role played by RT and Sputnik in these and other processes, that “absurd” accusations against Russia are an attempt to demonise it, or that the US and UK are indeed the ones who try to interfere in Europe.