The Kremlin’s security agency is buying up typewriters to avoid damaging leaks in a move said to be motivated by recent US surveillance scandals.
Russia’s Federal Protective Service, the KGB’s successor in charge of protecting President Vladimir Putin and his officials, placed an order for 20 typewriters, according to the state procurement website
The agency, known by its Russian acronym FSO, is ready to pay £500 each for them, the Kremlin-connected newspaper Izvestia reported.
It said the FSO believed it was necessary to expand the use of typewriters after American Edward Snowden reportedly used a simple flash drive to reveal the extent of the US government’s phone and internet surveillance programmes.
“After the scandal with the spread of classified documents WikiLeaks, revelations of Edward Snowden, reports of tapping Dmitry Medvedev during his visit to the G20 summit in London, it has been decided to expand the practice of creating paper documents,” a FSO source told the newspaper.
Typewriters have already been used for printing drafts of some official documents and reports presented to Mr Putin, according to the report.
The Russian newspaper also said the FSO has been ordering print cartridge ribbons for the Triumph Adler Twain 180.
The Triumph model “allows you to create fairly complex documents for use in their professional organisations”, it said.
The FSO has not commented on why it needs the devices.
Snowden abandoned his high-paying intelligence contractor job in Hawaii and went to Hong Kong on May 20 to begin issuing a series of leaks on the National Security Agency (NSA).
He revealed the NSA’s access to vast amounts of internet data such as emails, chat rooms and video under a government programme known as Prism.
Snowden is now holed up in the transit area of a Moscow airport, seeking to avoid extradition to the US to face espionage charges.