Dozens of high-flying trainee Russian spies have been banished to the Siberian wilderness after taking part in â€˜indecentâ€™ graduation that compromised their identities.
The newly minted agents hired dozens of black Mercedes jeeps which they drove through the Russian capitalâ€™s streets last month, blocking traffic, honking their horns, and hanging out the windows filming each other on their mobile phones.
They also organised a group photograph, which showed some of the young men clutching champagne flutes. The photograph found its way onto the internet along with video footage of the convoy.
They were given the choice of quitting the countryâ€™s elite security service or being stationed in Chukotka or Kamchatka, and almost all of them picked the second option.
The shocking spectacle was denounced by veteran Cold War spies, and plainly infuriated Vladimir Putin, himself an ex-KGB secret serviceman who served undercover in East Germany.
Now, three weeks after the event, spy chiefs in Moscow have acted against the â€˜guilty personsâ€™ demanding that they either quit their FSB â€“ Federal Security Service â€“ careers altogether, or be banished to Russiaâ€™s remotest regions to serve as a punishment for their excesses.
The FSB was once headed by Putin, who declined to comment on the Mercedes showboating at the time but the Kremlin publicly demanded that the serviceâ€™s leadership should deal with the scandal.
â€˜The main part of FSB Academy graduates who took part in the ride of Gelandewagen cars were sent to serve in Chukotka and Kamchatka detachments,â€™ reported Life.ru commenting on the results of an investigation.
â€˜The graduates were offered either to agree and to go to these remote regions near the border, or to resign.