Russian reporter denies trying to enter military base

Image source, Channel One
Image caption,
Timur Siraziev's report from outside the Berkshire base was broadcast on Russia's Channel One

A Russian TV reporter who sparked a security alert has denied trying to infiltrate a British Army base.

Timur Siraziev, of Channel One, was seen outside 77 Brigade's Berkshire base with a camera crew, the Mail on Sunday reported.

It led to an urgent warning at every base in the country not to approach Mr Siraziev if alone, but to contact police, the paper said.

The 77 Brigade works in social media and psychological operations.

Mr Siraziev told the RIA Novosti news agency the crew had been operating openly, on public land, and "did not try to penetrate the base".

He said: "I came to the checkpoint, introduced myself, that I was Timur Siraziev, a journalist for Channel One, said that we wanted to talk."

The MoD said Mr Siraziev's "suspicious" behaviour was monitored by the base's security systems throughout.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson also urged the public to report suspicious activity near military sites.

Mr Williamson said: "We take the security of our bases and personnel incredibly seriously.

"If a member of the public sees anyone acting suspiciously in or around a military base it should be reported to the police as a matter of urgency."

Report broadcast

Russia's Channel One later broadcast Mr Siraziev's report, which contained footage apparently filmed from a vehicle as it passed the barracks in Hermitage on 21 November.

He is also shown speaking on camera as he walks close to an entrance to the base.

The BBC's Russian service said that, in his report, Mr Siraziev claimed that the building of the 77 Brigade was being used to "attack social networks" with "fake news".

With UK-Russian relations frosty in the wake of the Salisbury Novichok poisoning, GCHQ chief Jeremy Fleming warned earlier this year that Moscow posed a "real" and "active" threat to the international community.

Last month, the head of the Army, Gen Mark Carleton-Smith, described Russia as a "far greater threat" to UK security than the Islamic State group.

Mr Siraziev is listed on the Russian Embassy's website as Channel One's bureau chief.

When set up in 2015, 77 Brigade was touted as a unit that would help the UK to fight wars in the "information age" by helping to win hearts and minds.

It includes both regular troops and reservists.

Head of the Army at the time, Gen Sir Nick Carter, said the move was about trying to operate "smarter".