FBI Questions TN Lawmaker In Russian Spy Case

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

(Memphis) The FBI is not confirming or denying a Memphis connection to an international Russian spy investigation.

WREG-TV spent the day trying to get answers from a state lawmaker recruited for a trip with a man, sources say they are investigating.

TN State Senator Brian Kelsey (R) is the type of applicant a special Russian exchange program was looking for.

He's young, energetic and connected.

“There is certainly a lesson learned that the Russian leadership is looking to spy on the U.S., “said Kelsey.

The FBI appears to be looking into Yury Zaytsev, the man who visited Memphis to recruit young people into his country’s Russian Cultural Exchange program.

He footed the bill for 130 people to visit Russia. Kelsey was one of them.

The government wants to find out if Zaytsev is really recruiting spies.

“This trip took place before Russia decided to allow Edward Snowden into the country but I think that should be a sign to America right there that Russia does not have any intentions of treating us as an ally,” said Kelsey.

Kelsey isn’t saying much about what FBI agents asked him but he’s been a supporter of building Russian ties in the Mid-South.

Kelsey served as one of the speakers, when the Memphis Russian Cultural Center celebrated its one year anniversary.

“The idea of a Russian Cultural Center actually being funded by the Russian was problematic and was troubling and so that is why I backed out of my participation in their events, is when I found these facts out, “ said Kelsey.

Kelsey said during his trip to Russia no one approached him without anything associated with spying.

The doors at Memphis’ Russian Cultural Center on South Main Street were locked today. No one answered the door when we went by.