I present to you my neighbors. On the top floor, the typical pink English, frankly unbearable, professional mediator although she is the most intransigent person I know; below, a British couple of Indian origin, she responsible for personnel recruitment, more British than Queen Elizabeth, and he, an amateur musician; and in the attic a financial speculator with one foot in Singapore and the other in Marbella. All lined. What is the introduction for?, you may ask. It is that for the first time I wonder if any of them is a Russian spy. Apparently London is full.
Three Bulgarian citizens accused this week of espionage and brought to justice were someone’s neighbors and had an apparently normal life, the couple in the middle-class neighborhoods north of the capital, and the other in a town on the coast of Norfolk. They could be the protagonists of a television series like The Americans , in which a couple with two children, typical of the suburbs of any city in the United States, as Yankees as Chevrolets and peanut butter, have actually been “cultivated” from a young age as agents and infiltrators for the KGB. No James Bond. His liaison is a midwife who could be the cashier at the supermarket in the mall.
They lived in the suburbs and led a routine life so as not to arouse suspicion in the community.
The Bulgarians in question had been here for many years but were not posing as English (their accents would have prevented them). Over time they have had multiple jobs, and currently Katrin Ivanova (31 years old) worked as an assistant in a private medical laboratory, Bizer Dzhambazov (41) transported blood for a hospital and Orlin Roussev (45) said in his resume that he had He has exercised technical tasks in the financial industry, advised the Ministry of Energy of his country and is the owner of an electronic signal interception business. The latter sounds suspicious in itself, but he shouldn’t have given a lot of money, because he lived in a discreet boarding house.
Life in the suburbs seems boring but it gives a lot of play. Katrin and Bizer (they will forgive the confidence) collected passports as if they were soccer cards and the police discovered in their house a total of nineteen identity documents, among them Spanish, British, French, Italian, Croatian, Slovenian, Greek, from the Czech Republic and Bulgarian, so that it was not said. They were in close contact with the community of their country, offering the new arrivals almost free English courses and acclimatization lessons to the life of these islands and their social customs, and they helped them to complete the necessary procedures to be able to vote from abroad. . They claim that they did so altruistically, but the speculation of the intelligence service is that their mission, on orders from Moscow, was to influence the outcome of the elections and to get them to support the pro-Russian extreme right in Bulgaria.
The trio were actually arrested in February, but only now have the public been informed and charges filed. Regardless of the jobs they had at any given time, in addition to passports, they collected press passes from media outlets, especially from North America, such as the National Geographic and the television channel discovery , and posed as journalists to obtain information. Altogether it seems like quite a homespun operation, because there must be glamorous and effective ways of spying than pretending to be a reporter. But the Metropolitan Police’s counter-intelligence unit has taken their activities very seriously, summoning them for next year in the Old Bailey (Criminal Court) on charges yet to be decided, but which will certainly include “use of documents.” false for criminal purposes.
A recent British government report warns, after a six-month investigation, that London is infested with Russian spies and that Vladimir Putin, as a former KGB official, is doing everything possible to infiltrate banks, financial services, security firms , Parliament, the Ministry of Defense and the intelligence apparatus. That, apart from those who have come from tourists to poison double agents Alexander Litvinenko and Sergei Skrypal. In 2018, former Prime Minister Theresa May expelled twenty-three diplomats from the Russian Federation.
The Bulgarians gave their neighbors cakes and bottles of wine… None of mine have ever offered me anything. Could one be a Russian spy? It doesn’t seem likely, but who knows…