The State Department has awarded a $2.8 million contract to guard the U.S. embassy in Moscow to a company founded by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s former KGB boss and head of counterintelligence, The New York Times reports.
Elite Security Holdings, a company co-founded by retired Russian general Viktor Budanov, 82, was awarded the contract to guard the U.S. embassy in Moscow as well as three other consulates in Russia. U.S. Marines will still guard the grounds and high-security locations of the outposts.
A State Department official told the Times that the security firm has been properly “vetted” and will only carry out security tasks previously handled by local guards hired by the embassy.
The former espionage agent oversaw Putin when he was a young intelligence officer. As the head of the KGB, Budanov worked against Western intelligence agencies during the early years of the Russian Federation under former President Boris Yeltsin.
The Hill notes:
The U.S. issued the contract to Elite Security after Putin’s order that the U.S. embassy reduce its permanent staff to 455. Elite Security was found to be the only company with proper licensing for all four cities, despite efforts to contract American companies for the job.