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The Olympics are more than fun and games. They're a billion-dollar business with political overtones

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The Olympics are more than fun and games. They're a billion-dollar business with political overtones
News

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The Olympics are more than fun and games. They're a billion-dollar business with political overtones

2024-06-18 18:00 Last Updated At:18:10

The Paris Olympics involve about 10,500 athletes from 200 countries or regions. But the Olympics are more than just fun and games.

They are a giant business that generates billions of dollars in income for the International Olympic Committee. They're also a proxy for geopolitical influence seen through the standings in the medal tables, the presence of world leaders at the opening ceremony and the national anthems serenading gold-medal winners.

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FILE - IOC President Thomas Bach speaks to the media at the International Olympic Committee launch of the Olympic AI Agenda at Lee Valley VeloPark in London, April 19, 2024. The Paris Olympics involve about 10,500 athletes from 200 countries or regions. But the Olympics are more than just fun and games. They are a giant business that generates billions of dollars in income for the International Olympic Committee. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

The Paris Olympics involve about 10,500 athletes from 200 countries or regions. But the Olympics are more than just fun and games.

FILE - Thomas Bach, IOC President speaks at the International Olympic Committee launch of the Olympic AI Agenda at Lee Valley VeloPark in London, April 19, 2024. The Paris Olympics involve about 10,500 athletes from 200 countries or regions. But the Olympics are more than just fun and games. They are a giant business that generates billions of dollars in income for the International Olympic Committee. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

FILE - Thomas Bach, IOC President speaks at the International Olympic Committee launch of the Olympic AI Agenda at Lee Valley VeloPark in London, April 19, 2024. The Paris Olympics involve about 10,500 athletes from 200 countries or regions. But the Olympics are more than just fun and games. They are a giant business that generates billions of dollars in income for the International Olympic Committee. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

FILE - In this photo taken with a lens with rain drops shows the Olympic rings on Trocadero plaza that overlooks the Eiffel Tower, after the vote in Lima, Peru, awarding the 2024 Games to the French capital, in Paris, France, on Sept. 13, 2017. The Paris Olympics involve about 10,500 athletes from 200 countries or regions. But the Olympics are more than just fun and games. They are a giant business that generates billions of dollars in income for the International Olympic Committee. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)

FILE - In this photo taken with a lens with rain drops shows the Olympic rings on Trocadero plaza that overlooks the Eiffel Tower, after the vote in Lima, Peru, awarding the 2024 Games to the French capital, in Paris, France, on Sept. 13, 2017. The Paris Olympics involve about 10,500 athletes from 200 countries or regions. But the Olympics are more than just fun and games. They are a giant business that generates billions of dollars in income for the International Olympic Committee. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)

FILE - The countdown clock reading 100 days before the Paris 2024 Olympic Games opening ceremony is seen April 17, 2024 in Paris. The Paris Olympics involve about 10,500 athletes from 200 countries or regions. But the Olympics are more than just fun and games. They are a giant business that generates billions of dollars in income for the International Olympic Committee. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)

FILE - The countdown clock reading 100 days before the Paris 2024 Olympic Games opening ceremony is seen April 17, 2024 in Paris. The Paris Olympics involve about 10,500 athletes from 200 countries or regions. But the Olympics are more than just fun and games. They are a giant business that generates billions of dollars in income for the International Olympic Committee. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)

FILE - The Olympic rings are set up at Trocadero plaza that overlooks the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Sept. 14, 2017. The Paris Olympics involve about 10,500 athletes from 200 countries or regions. But the Olympics are more than just fun and games. They are a giant business that generates billions of dollars in income for the International Olympic Committee. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)

FILE - The Olympic rings are set up at Trocadero plaza that overlooks the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Sept. 14, 2017. The Paris Olympics involve about 10,500 athletes from 200 countries or regions. But the Olympics are more than just fun and games. They are a giant business that generates billions of dollars in income for the International Olympic Committee. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)

Here's a look at how the IOC and the Olympics operate.

The International Olympic Committee is a not-for-profit, nongovernmental body based in Lausanne, Switzerland. It generates 91% of its income from selling broadcast rights (61%) and sponsorships (30%). Income for the latest four-year cycle of Winter and Summer Games ending with the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 was $7.6 billion. The IOC says it returns 90% of its income back into sports, although athletes directly get only a small slice. There may be a move afoot to change that. The IOC opened a new headquarters in 2019 at a reported cost of about 190 million Swiss francs, or about $200 million. Host nations pick up the majority of the bills for staging the Olympics. The cost for the Tokyo Games was officially listed at $13 billion. More than half was covered by Japanese government entities. Olympic costs are difficult to track, but a Japanese government audit suggested the real costs may have been twice as much as listed.

The IOC is composed of about 100 members. The membership selects its own colleagues and the longest serving is Princess Nora of Liechtenstein. At least a half-dozen other royals are IOC members. However, most of the power is vested in President Thomas Bach — a lawyer from Germany who also is a member — and his executive board. IOC members are technically volunteers, though all of Bach's expenses are covered by the IOC. The IOC's annual report says this amounted to $370,000 in 2022. This included an annual “indemnity” of 275,000 euros, or about $295,000. His tax liabilities of $163,000 in Switzerland also were paid. IOC members receive per diems of between $450-900 to attend meetings and get first-class travel and five-star lodging.

Unpaid volunteers help the IOC and local organizers run the Games. They typically receive uniforms, food when they work and some minor transport costs. Lodging is seldom included. Paris is looking for 45,000 volunteers. Tokyo initially went after 80,000. Typically, only the well off can volunteer. The 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro struggled to find volunteers because many of the city's poor could not work for free. Some showed up the first day, collected their uniforms and did not return. The volunteer system can be viewed as economic exploitation. If volunteers were paid a minimum wage of $10 per hour, the extra cost could be as much as $100 million. Some Paris volunteers have threatened not to show up to express their displeasure over Olympic spending and French pension reforms.

The IOC says the Olympics transcend politics. But in reality, they are highly political. It's noteworthy that the IOC has observer status at the United Nations, indicative of its self-perceived role in the world. Political scientist Jules Boykoff notes in his recent book “What Are The Olympics For" that athletes march in the opening ceremony by country. They could just as well, he notes, march grouped by sports. But that would downplay the nationalist element, a key to the Games' popularity. Adolf Hitler used the 1936 Berlin Olympics to promote his agenda. The torch relay has its origins in Berlin.

The IOC used to award the Games seven years in advance. In 2015, as it was set to award the 2022 Winter Olympics, the IOC had only two unlikely candidates: Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan. China's capital won in a close vote. Many European countries including Sweden, Germany and Switzerland dropped out because of high costs. Since then, the IOC has eliminated the old bid system. It had only two bidders in 2017 for the 2024 Summer Games: Paris and Los Angeles. It awarded Paris those Games and gave Los Angeles 2028. In 2021, it awarded Brisbane, Australia, the 2032 Games — 11 years in advance — largely because of influential IOC member John Coates. An Olympic study by Victor Matheson and Robert Baade, two American college professors, concluded that “in most cases the Olympics are a money-losing proposition for host cities.” The study in the Journal of Economic Perspectives was published in 2016 and IOC officials say recent changes to the bid system will help. A key argument is that the Olympics are very expensive and may bump aside priorities like schools and hospitals.

The Olympics frequently have been embroiled in scandals or corruption, perhaps due to the large amount of public money involved and rushed deadlines. The most recent Tokyo Games involved a bribery scandal over contracts, sponsorships and the bid itself. The 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics were out of money when they opened. Then-IOC member Carlos Nuzman, who headed the Games, was arrested on corruption charges shortly the Olympics were over. The 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, were marked by a state-run doping scandal and coverup. Corruption in the bid process in the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Games forced some ethics reforms. And organizers of the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics in Japan are widely reported to have destroyed incriminating financial records that showed they spent millions on lavish entertainment for IOC members.

AP Olympics coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games

FILE - IOC President Thomas Bach speaks to the media at the International Olympic Committee launch of the Olympic AI Agenda at Lee Valley VeloPark in London, April 19, 2024. The Paris Olympics involve about 10,500 athletes from 200 countries or regions. But the Olympics are more than just fun and games. They are a giant business that generates billions of dollars in income for the International Olympic Committee. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

FILE - IOC President Thomas Bach speaks to the media at the International Olympic Committee launch of the Olympic AI Agenda at Lee Valley VeloPark in London, April 19, 2024. The Paris Olympics involve about 10,500 athletes from 200 countries or regions. But the Olympics are more than just fun and games. They are a giant business that generates billions of dollars in income for the International Olympic Committee. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

FILE - Thomas Bach, IOC President speaks at the International Olympic Committee launch of the Olympic AI Agenda at Lee Valley VeloPark in London, April 19, 2024. The Paris Olympics involve about 10,500 athletes from 200 countries or regions. But the Olympics are more than just fun and games. They are a giant business that generates billions of dollars in income for the International Olympic Committee. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

FILE - Thomas Bach, IOC President speaks at the International Olympic Committee launch of the Olympic AI Agenda at Lee Valley VeloPark in London, April 19, 2024. The Paris Olympics involve about 10,500 athletes from 200 countries or regions. But the Olympics are more than just fun and games. They are a giant business that generates billions of dollars in income for the International Olympic Committee. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

FILE - In this photo taken with a lens with rain drops shows the Olympic rings on Trocadero plaza that overlooks the Eiffel Tower, after the vote in Lima, Peru, awarding the 2024 Games to the French capital, in Paris, France, on Sept. 13, 2017. The Paris Olympics involve about 10,500 athletes from 200 countries or regions. But the Olympics are more than just fun and games. They are a giant business that generates billions of dollars in income for the International Olympic Committee. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)

FILE - In this photo taken with a lens with rain drops shows the Olympic rings on Trocadero plaza that overlooks the Eiffel Tower, after the vote in Lima, Peru, awarding the 2024 Games to the French capital, in Paris, France, on Sept. 13, 2017. The Paris Olympics involve about 10,500 athletes from 200 countries or regions. But the Olympics are more than just fun and games. They are a giant business that generates billions of dollars in income for the International Olympic Committee. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)

FILE - The countdown clock reading 100 days before the Paris 2024 Olympic Games opening ceremony is seen April 17, 2024 in Paris. The Paris Olympics involve about 10,500 athletes from 200 countries or regions. But the Olympics are more than just fun and games. They are a giant business that generates billions of dollars in income for the International Olympic Committee. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)

FILE - The countdown clock reading 100 days before the Paris 2024 Olympic Games opening ceremony is seen April 17, 2024 in Paris. The Paris Olympics involve about 10,500 athletes from 200 countries or regions. But the Olympics are more than just fun and games. They are a giant business that generates billions of dollars in income for the International Olympic Committee. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)

FILE - The Olympic rings are set up at Trocadero plaza that overlooks the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Sept. 14, 2017. The Paris Olympics involve about 10,500 athletes from 200 countries or regions. But the Olympics are more than just fun and games. They are a giant business that generates billions of dollars in income for the International Olympic Committee. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)

FILE - The Olympic rings are set up at Trocadero plaza that overlooks the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Sept. 14, 2017. The Paris Olympics involve about 10,500 athletes from 200 countries or regions. But the Olympics are more than just fun and games. They are a giant business that generates billions of dollars in income for the International Olympic Committee. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)

Treason cases were rare in Russia 30 years ago, with only a handful brought annually. In the past decade and especially since the 2022 invasion of Ukraine, however, the number has soared, along with espionage prosecutions.

They are ensnaring citizens and foreigners alike. Recent victims range from Kremlin critics and independent journalists to veteran scientists working with countries that Moscow considers friendly.

One rights group counted over 100 known treason cases in 2023, with probably another 100 that nobody knows about.

The prosecutions have raised comparisons to the show trials and purges under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in the 1930s.

They are usually held in strict isolation in Moscow’s notorious Lefortovo Prison, their trials are held behind closed doors and almost always result in convictions and long prison terms. They are investigated almost exclusively by the powerful Federal Security Service, or FSB, with specific charges and evidence shrouded in secrecy.

These cases stand apart from the unprecedented crackdown on dissent under President Vladimir Putin, who in 2022 urged security services to “harshly suppress the actions of foreign intelligence services (and) promptly identify traitors, spies and saboteurs.”

Some key takeaways of this trend of prosecuting high crimes:

Mass anti-government protests erupted in Moscow in 2011-12, with officials blaming the West. The legal definition of treason was then expanded to include providing vaguely defined “assistance” to foreign countries or organizations, effectively exposing to prosecution anyone in contact with foreigners.

The changes to the law were heavily criticized by rights advocates, including the Presidential Human Rights Council. Putin later agreed with council members that “there shouldn’t be any broad interpretation of what high treason is.”

But that broad interpretation was exactly what the authorities began applying — especially after 2014, when Russia illegally annexed Crimea from Ukraine, threw its weight behind a separatist insurgency in the eastern part of the country, and fell out with the West for the first time since the Cold War.

Svetlana Davydova, a mother of seven in the western region of Smolensk, contacted Ukraine’s Embassy in Moscow in 2014, saying she thought Russian troops from a nearby base were heading to eastern Ukraine. She was arrested in 2015 on treason charges under the law's expanded definition.

The case drew national attention and outrage. Russia at the time denied its troops were involved in eastern Ukraine, and the case against Davydova directly contradicted that narrative. The charges against her were eventually dropped in what turned out to be a rare exception to the increasing cases that in subsequent years consistently ended in convictions and prison terms.

Prosecution targets included journalists writing about Russia's military, as well as eminent scientists in fields that could have applications in weapons development. Professional groups say the scientists are punished for publishing articles in journals and participating in international projects that usually are part of their normal work.

Among them:

— Ivan Safronov, an adviser to the Roscosmos space agency and a former military affairs journalist, was convicted of treason in 2022 and was sentenced to 22 years in prison. He denied the charges, and his prosecution was widely seen as retaliation for his reporting on the military.

— Physicist Dmitry Kolker was arrested on treason charges in Novosibirsk in 2022, taken by the FSB from a hospital while suffering from advanced pancreatic cancer. Kolker, 54, had studied light waves and gave several approved lectures in China. He “wasn't revealing anything (secret) in them,” said his son, Maksim. Shortly after the scientist was taken to Lefortovo Prison, the family was told he had died in a hospital.

— Valery Golubkin, a physicist specializing in aerodynamics who is now 71, was arrested in 2021 and convicted of treason in 2023. His state-run research institute was working on an international project of a hypersonic civilian aircraft, and he was asked by his employer to help with reports on the project. His 12-year sentence was upheld despite appeals, and his family now can only hope for his release on parole.

— Physicist Anatoly Maslov, 77, who was working on hypersonics, was convicted of treason in May and sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Treason or espionage cases involving writers, journalists and others:

— Vladimir Kara-Murza, an opposition politician, was charged with treason in 2022 after giving speeches in the West that were critical of Russia. After surviving what he believed were attempts to poison him in 2015 and 2017, Kara-Murza was convicted last year and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

— The Wall Street Journal’s Evan Gershkovich was arrested in 2023 on espionage charges, the first American reporter so accused since the Cold War. Gershkovich, whose trial began in June, denies the charges, and the U.S. government has declared him wrongfully detained.

— Ksenia Khavana, 33, was arrested on treason charges in Yekaterinburg in February, accused of collecting money for Ukraine’s military. The dual Russian-U.S. citizen had returned from Los Angeles to visit relatives, and the charges reportedly stem from a $51 donation to a United States-based charity that helps Ukraine.

— Paul Whelan, a U.S. corporate security executive who traveled to Moscow to attend a wedding, was arrested in 2018 and convicted of espionage two years later, and sentenced to 16 years in prison. He denies the charges.

Some cases involving scientists can probably be traced to a Putin speech in 2018, when he touted Russia's hypersonic weapons program. The security services may want to show the Kremlin that Russia's scientific advances are so impressive that foreign powers want to go after them, lawyer Evgeny Smirnov says.

If a security service wants to authorize surveillance or a wiretap on a subject, it's far easier to get authorities to approve such measures if it's for a treason case, said Andrei Soldatov, a journalist and expert on the FSB.

Smirnov says the rise in prosecutions came after the FSB allowed its regional branches in 2022 to pursue certain kinds of treason cases, and officials in those areas sought to curry favor with their superiors to advance their careers.

Above all, Soldatov said, is the FSB’s genuine belief of “the fragility of the regime” at a time of a political turmoil — either from mass protests, as in 2011-12, or now amid the war in Ukraine.

“They sincerely believe (the regime) can break,” even if it’s really not the case, he said.

FILE - Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine, listens to a verdict that found him guilty of espionage in Moscow, Russia, on June 15, 2020. Whelan, a U.S. corporate security executive who traveled to Moscow to attend a wedding, was arrested in 2018. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison and denies the charges. (Sofia Sandurskaya, Moscow News Agency photo via AP, File)

FILE - Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine, listens to a verdict that found him guilty of espionage in Moscow, Russia, on June 15, 2020. Whelan, a U.S. corporate security executive who traveled to Moscow to attend a wedding, was arrested in 2018. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison and denies the charges. (Sofia Sandurskaya, Moscow News Agency photo via AP, File)

FILE - Ksenia Karelina, also known by the last name of Khavana, sits in a defendant’s cage in a court in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Thursday, June 20, 2024. The dual Russian-U.S. citizen was arrested on treason charges in Yekaterinburg in February after returning from Los Angeles to visit relatives, and the charges reportedly stem from her $51 donation to a U.S. charity that helps Ukraine. (AP Photo, File)

FILE - Ksenia Karelina, also known by the last name of Khavana, sits in a defendant’s cage in a court in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Thursday, June 20, 2024. The dual Russian-U.S. citizen was arrested on treason charges in Yekaterinburg in February after returning from Los Angeles to visit relatives, and the charges reportedly stem from her $51 donation to a U.S. charity that helps Ukraine. (AP Photo, File)

FILE - Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich is escorted from court after a pre-trial hearing in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Jan. 26, 2024. Gershkovich was arrested on espionage charges during a reporting trip to the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg. He, his employer and the U.S. government have vehemently denied the charges, and Washington has declared him wrongfully detained. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

FILE - Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich is escorted from court after a pre-trial hearing in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Jan. 26, 2024. Gershkovich was arrested on espionage charges during a reporting trip to the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg. He, his employer and the U.S. government have vehemently denied the charges, and Washington has declared him wrongfully detained. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

FILE - Russian opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza is escorted to a hearing in a court in Moscow, Russia, Feb. 8, 2023. Kara-Murza, an opposition politician, was charged with treason in 2022 after giving speeches in the West that were critical of Russia. He rejected the charges as politically motivated. He was convicted last year and given a 25-year prison term, the harshest sentence handed to a Kremlin critic in post-Soviet Russia. (AP Photo, File)

FILE - Russian opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza is escorted to a hearing in a court in Moscow, Russia, Feb. 8, 2023. Kara-Murza, an opposition politician, was charged with treason in 2022 after giving speeches in the West that were critical of Russia. He rejected the charges as politically motivated. He was convicted last year and given a 25-year prison term, the harshest sentence handed to a Kremlin critic in post-Soviet Russia. (AP Photo, File)

FILE - In this photo released by the Moscow City Court Press Service, Valery Golubkin, a physicist specializing in aerodynamics, stands in a defendant’s cage in a court in Moscow, Russia, on Monday, June 26, 2023. Golubkin, 71, was arrested in 2021 and convicted of treason in 2023 and sentenced to 12 years in prison. Authorities accused him of passing state secrets abroad, but he and his lawyers insisted he merely submitted research reports on an international project that didn’t contain any state secrets and were cleared for submission. (Moscow City Court Press Service via AP, File)

FILE - In this photo released by the Moscow City Court Press Service, Valery Golubkin, a physicist specializing in aerodynamics, stands in a defendant’s cage in a court in Moscow, Russia, on Monday, June 26, 2023. Golubkin, 71, was arrested in 2021 and convicted of treason in 2023 and sentenced to 12 years in prison. Authorities accused him of passing state secrets abroad, but he and his lawyers insisted he merely submitted research reports on an international project that didn’t contain any state secrets and were cleared for submission. (Moscow City Court Press Service via AP, File)

FILE - In this photo taken from video provided by the Moscow City Court, Ivan Safronov, an adviser to the director of Russia's space agency, right, stands in court prior to a hearing in Moscow, Russia, on Monday, Sept. 5, 2022. Safronov, a former military affairs journalist, was convicted of treason and sentenced to 22 years in prison. Authorities accused him of passing military secrets to Czech intelligence and a German national, which he denied. The case has been widely viewed as retaliation for his reporting. (Moscow City Court via AP, File)

FILE - In this photo taken from video provided by the Moscow City Court, Ivan Safronov, an adviser to the director of Russia's space agency, right, stands in court prior to a hearing in Moscow, Russia, on Monday, Sept. 5, 2022. Safronov, a former military affairs journalist, was convicted of treason and sentenced to 22 years in prison. Authorities accused him of passing military secrets to Czech intelligence and a German national, which he denied. The case has been widely viewed as retaliation for his reporting. (Moscow City Court via AP, File)

FILE - Ivan Safronov, an adviser to the director of Russia's space agency, stands in a defendant’s cage in a courtroom in Moscow, Russia, on July 16, 2020. Safronov, a former military affairs journalist, was convicted of treason and sentenced to 22 years in prison. Authorities accused him of passing military secrets to Czech intelligence and a German national, which he denied. The case has been widely viewed as retaliation for his reporting. (AP Photo, File)

FILE - Ivan Safronov, an adviser to the director of Russia's space agency, stands in a defendant’s cage in a courtroom in Moscow, Russia, on July 16, 2020. Safronov, a former military affairs journalist, was convicted of treason and sentenced to 22 years in prison. Authorities accused him of passing military secrets to Czech intelligence and a German national, which he denied. The case has been widely viewed as retaliation for his reporting. (AP Photo, File)

FILE - Svetlana Davydova, a mother of seven who lives in the city of Vyazma in western Russia and was arrested in 2015 on treason charges and later released, arrives at a news conference in Moscow, Russia, on Friday, March 13, 2015. Davydova was arrested after she contacted Ukraine's Embassy in Moscow in 2014, saying she thought Russian troops from a nearby base were heading to eastern Ukraine, where a separatist insurgency was unfolding. Russia at the time denied its troops involvement in eastern Ukraine, and the charges against Davydova were eventually dropped. (AP Photo, File)

FILE - Svetlana Davydova, a mother of seven who lives in the city of Vyazma in western Russia and was arrested in 2015 on treason charges and later released, arrives at a news conference in Moscow, Russia, on Friday, March 13, 2015. Davydova was arrested after she contacted Ukraine's Embassy in Moscow in 2014, saying she thought Russian troops from a nearby base were heading to eastern Ukraine, where a separatist insurgency was unfolding. Russia at the time denied its troops involvement in eastern Ukraine, and the charges against Davydova were eventually dropped. (AP Photo, File)

FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting with the leadership of military-industrial complex enterprises in Tula, Russia, Friday, Dec. 23, 2022. Treason cases were rare in Russia 30 years ago, with only a handful brought annually. In the last decade and especially since the Kremlin sent troops into Ukraine, however, the number has soared, along with espionage prosecutions. Putin in 2022 urged security services to "harshly suppress the actions of foreign intelligence services (and) promptly identify traitors, spies and saboteurs." (Russian Presidential Press Office, Sputnik Pool Photo via AP, File)

FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting with the leadership of military-industrial complex enterprises in Tula, Russia, Friday, Dec. 23, 2022. Treason cases were rare in Russia 30 years ago, with only a handful brought annually. In the last decade and especially since the Kremlin sent troops into Ukraine, however, the number has soared, along with espionage prosecutions. Putin in 2022 urged security services to "harshly suppress the actions of foreign intelligence services (and) promptly identify traitors, spies and saboteurs." (Russian Presidential Press Office, Sputnik Pool Photo via AP, File)

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