WASHINGTON - A former top Russian spy who defected to the United States after running espionage operations from the United Nations, Sergei Tretyakov, has died in Florida, his wife and a friend said Friday. He was 53.
Tretyakov, who defected in 2000 and later claimed his agents helped the Russian government steal nearly $500 million from the UN's oil-for-food program in Iraq, died June 13.
WTOP Radio in Washington reported his death Friday. His widow, Helen, told WTOP he died of natural causes.
She said she announced his death Friday to prevent Russian intelligence from claiming responsibility or "flattering themselves that they punished Sergei." Tretyakov said her husband warned U.S. authorities when he defected that Russia was expanding deep-cover operations. However, she said there was no direct link between his information and the 10 people arrested last month as Russian spies.- AP