Former eXile Correspondent Was Friends With Russian Spy

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Former eXile “Far East Correspondent” Mark Grueter was a friend of recently arrested Russian spy Mikhail Semenko. Grueter tells his story in the Boston Phoenix:

Mikhail Semenko, one of the Russians recently accused of spying for his government, was a friend of mine. I write “was” because even though he replied to a couple of my e-mails after being deported, he appears to have cut me off after I started asking him questions about what the hell was going on. He wasn’t a good friend — I don’t want to give the wrong impression — but we shared a strange history, having first met in Siberia in 2001.

More recently, I lived in the apartment in Arlington, Virginia, where Misha (short for “Mikhail” in Russian and what everyone calls him) was arrested, handcuffed, and dragged out with his T-shirt hanging over his head. I left just before he and his Ecuadorian girlfriend moved in around November 2009, and I was responsible for getting the place for him, assuring the long-standing tenant who kept many of his personal belongings there that Misha was a solid, trustworthy guy.

I remember Misha being annoyingly anxious to secure the apartment. I was waffling, unsure if I wanted to stay there or not. Part of the reason I decided to move out was that Misha was so damn adamant about moving in. Now we know why he was so insistent.

Grueter tried to land an interview with Semenko, but only received this in reply: “Mark, I’m not going to talk about it, but thanks for being fair and honest. Say hi to everybody. Cheers, M.”