Finn suspected of years of espionage for Stasi
Lassi Päivärinta allegedly supplied GDR with 29 reports – many with sensitive security information
A Finnish source given the code name “Larsen” by the East German espionage service Stasi supplied the GDR with information from 1982 all the way to 1989, when the country began to unravel.
Helsingin Sanomat received a copy of documents relating to Larsen from the BStU - the German Federal Commissioner for the Stasi records.
BStU says that Larsen was Lassi Päivärinta, who is now a professor of mathematics at the University of Helsinki.
Officials say that the clearest evidence of Päivärinta’s activities is in the lengthy recruitment documents, which include Päivärinta’s name and birth date.
“There is no doubt that he is the one”, says Helmut Müller-Engbergs.
Müller-Engbergs has studied Stasi documents for 20 years. He served as an expert when Alpo Rusi was cleared of suspicions of spying for Stasi.
No signed agreement between Stasi and Päivärinta on cooperation was to be found in the hundreds of pages of documents.
“It is just a matter of time before it will emerge”, Müller-Engbergs says.
Larsen’s papers were found among documents that had been shredded by Stasi employees as East Germany was collapsing, and which have been pieced together by BStU investigators.
The Päivärinta case came out in a recent German television documentary. On Wednesday the RBB TV channel aired a documentary Ostspione im Hohen Norden (“East Spies in the Far North”).
Päivärinta admitted in an interview on Wednesday that he had met Stasi officers on the evening of his recruitment. “I thought that this was the security service”, Päivärinta said in the interview. “I have no recollection of that [signing an agreement]. We drank a good deal there in Gera, I don’t remember precisely”, he said.
Speaking with Helsingin Sanomat Päivärinta has denied that he was a Stasi spy.
According to a recruitment report by Stasi officers, Larsen had “deep, friendly, and political sympathies toward the GDR’s socialist development”.
The Stasi documents said that Larsen supplied the GDR’s intelligence service with 29 scientific reports, about half of which were unpublished research reports. Larsen met with his Stasi minder nearly 20 times and travelled abroad eight times at Stasi expense. He accepted money on many occasions mainly to cover travel expenses. The sums of money varied between 400 and 2,400 West German marks.
Müller-Engbergs says that as a spy Larsen was “slightly above average”. His value was boosted by the fact that he operated in areas that were sensitive from a security point of view.
“The GDR wanted to get information about EISCAT, and that was no small matter, as it had military significance.”
According to reports written by Stasi officers, EISCAT was a secret NATO research project. The project continues.
“In the early 1980s a threat of war prevailed, so all information available about military matters was extremely valuable.”
About half of the reports sent by Larsen concerned EISCAT. The reports have been destroyed, but BStU has a list of them.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Professor denies spying for East Germany (20.1.2012)
German TV: Finnish academic supplied information to East German spy (19.1.2012)
What is EISCAT?
German Federal Commissioner for the Stasi records