Russia's FSB security service took action against a group of recent graduates, who allowed themselves to be photographed lavishly celebrating their graduation. They paraded through the streets of Moscow in a procession of black Mercedes-Benz jeeps. They were seen driving a convoy of cars noisily through Moscow last month, blocking traffic and hanging out of the windows.
They also organized 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, attracting hundreds of thousands of viewers.
The graduates' behavior sparked indignation among both the public and senior intelligence officers who said it did not square with the requirements of a job characterised by secrecy.
"The immodest, demonstrative behaviour linked to the rentals from a luxury car company sparked justified indignation among citizens and strong condemnation from the community of military security bodies as not complying with the code of ethics and official conduct," the FSB said in a statement.
Millions of Russians have watched footage of the incident, with many, including veteran spies, branding it a shameful display of wealth and power at a time of economic crisis.
"For four years they were taught conspiracy, corporate ethics and that one must not reveal secrets," retired FSB Major-General Alexander Mikhailov told the Komsomolskaya Pravda tabloid. "So pompous and arrogant. If that's how they start their careers, they won't do any good."
The new agents' faces are clearly visible, handing a possible gift to rival foreign intelligence agencies, a fact that angered veteran Russian agents, some of whom said it amounted to treason.
The FSB said the agents involved would be punished by having the conditions of their assignments changed. "Strict measures" were also taken against the academy's management, including "the demotion of a string of directors", the FSB said, adding that it would fire some of them.