‘Russian spies’ in Davos: A scandal or clickbait-chasing nothingburger?

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By Nebojsa Malic, senior writer at RT

What better way to spice up a snoozy meeting of world elite at a posh Swiss resort than a story of Russian spies? And if details show it’s old with nothing to it, that hasn’t stopped conspiracy-mongers and attention hungry media.

“And then the plumber pulled out a diplomatic passport,” blares (in German) the headline in Sunday’s Tages Anzeiger. The Zurich-based daily offered a lurid story of two Russians with diplomatic documents that Swiss authorities hassled way back in August, and ultimately released because, well, they hadn’t done anything to warrant prosecution. 

At least one of them “pretended to be a plumber,” the paper proclaims, scandalized, to the delight of Russia conspiracy theorists everywhere – such as the Guardian’s Luke Harding or Eliot ‘Bellingcat’ Higgins.

How could two Russians possibly afford to stay in Davos for three weeks in August, the paper wondered. They had to be spies! After all, “connoisseurs of the case who spoke anonymously about the matter” said that it was “obvious” the duo intended to spy on – or even hack – the World Economic Forum, which would kick off four months later, this very week. 

With only wild speculation from anonymous sources to go by, TA reached out to Bill Browder, describing the notorious financier in glowing terms as an “American-British investor” who has “been fighting for justice” for years.

“Davos is one of the few places where I can directly confront Russian officials with human rights violations,” Browder told the paper.

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