(Bloomberg) -- A former professor at an Estonian university was sentenced to six years in prison for espionage as authorities said he’d been first recruited by Russian intelligence as a student in St. Petersburg three decades ago. 

Viacheslav Morozov, a Russian citizen who taught at the University of Tartu as a professor of international political theory, was found guilty by Harju County Court on Tuesday. He was convicted of collecting information relevant to national security, including individuals and infrastructure. 

Estonian authorities sketched out a picture of an accessible academic who parlayed his contacts and conference visits over the years into information that he sold to handlers during frequent visits to Russia for a small fee. Morozov, 51, who previously worked at St. Petersburg State University, had been an “inactive agent” until 2010, when he undertook additional training before moving his academic career to Estonia, the nation’s spy agency said. 

“The information he gathered gave a very adequate picture of Estonia’s vulnerabilities,” Margo Palloson, chief of the Estonian Internal Security Service, told reporters. The intelligence could ultimately be used to plan Russian military aggression against Estonia, he said. 


As European governments have increasingly moved against alleged Russian espionage networks, Estonia, which gained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, has aggressively sought to uncover and prosecute individuals working for Russia’s security services. 

The Baltic nation’s vocal support for Ukraine and criticism of Russia has made it a target of Moscow, which has intensified efforts against the country with espionage, cyberattacks and sabotage attempts. 

Estonia’s prosecutor said it reached a settlement with the defense, but declined to give details. Morozov, who has been detained since January, couldn’t be reached for contact.  

The Estonian spy chief described Morozov as an agent who worked on his own, “very careful and conspiratorial.” Although he received payments, his main motivation was patriotism, according to Palloson. 

While Morozov lacked high-level security access to the intelligence and defense establishment of Estonia, a member of NATO and the European Union, he benefited by a large network of contacts, the agency head said.

“In a country at war, intelligence needs grow,” Palloson said. “He was trained and guided very thoroughly” to avoid being caught. 

--With assistance from Aaron Eglitis.

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