St Basil's cathedral on the Red Square in Moscow
St Basil's cathedral on the Red Square in Moscow

Ruslan Stoyanov, head of cyber-investigations at Kaspersky Lab, has been arrested on suspicion of committing treason. A senior Russian FSB intelligence officer was also arrested under the same charges.

According to Russian news website Kommersant, Stoyanov has been in custody since December 2016. Sergei Mikhailov, a senior officer in the FSB who deals with internet service companies, was also arrested.

Kommersant said that Stoyanov was investigating a senior figure within the Russian FSB, who was allegedly receiving money from foreign organisations to assist in cyber-investigations.

Kommersant's sources have claimed that the arrest of Sergei Mikhailov – credited by some as informally controlling cyber-security and e-commerce policy through his extensive network of contacts –   may adversely affect the general relationship of internet businesses with the FSB.

A spokesperson for Kaspersky Lab confirmed to SC Media UK that Stoyanov had been arrested but said it had nothing to do with  his work at the company.

The spokesperson said: “This case is not related to Kaspersky Lab. Ruslan Stoyanov is under investigation for a period predating his employment at Kaspersky Lab. We do not possess details of the investigation. The work of Kaspersky Lab's Computer Incidents Investigation Team is unaffected by these developments.”

Prior to working at Kaspersky Lab from 2013, Stoyanov managed special technical activities at the Moscow police.

Andrei Soldatov, a Russian investigative journalist, told Associated Press that this arrest, “destroys a system that has been 20 years in the making, the system of relations between intelligence agencies and companies like Kaspersky.”

Soldatov added: “Intelligence agencies used to ask for Kaspersky's advice, and this is how informal ties were built. This romance is clearly over.”

However, Soldatov also told Kommersant that there really is nowhere for the government to go if they start breaking off relationships with security companies like Kaspersky Lab.

Eugene Gerden, SC Media UK's Russian correspondent, said, ”I think that the arrest of Stoyanov will not result in the end of cooperation of Kaspersky and FSB, as the head of the company Evgeny Kaspersky has always been affiliated with FSB.”

He speculated that the arrest of Stoyanov results from corporate conflicts in FSB. “Other Russian cyber companies will also continue the same policy, as the majority of them are also affiliated with FSB, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and other Russian law enforcement agencies,” he said.