UK law enforcement authorities have detained three people suspected of spying for Russian intelligence services, the BBC reports.
According to the publication, they are citizens of Bulgaria: Orlin Rusev (45 years old, from Great Yarmouth in the county of Norfolk), Bizer Dzhambazov (41 years old, from Harrow, northwest London) and Katrina Ivanova (31 years old, lives at the same address in Harrow).
All three were detained back in February, but it has only now come to light. The suspects are currently in custody. They are charged with possession of false identity documents. The investigation believes that the detainees used them with “unlawful intent”.
In particular, passports of Great Britain, Bulgaria, France, Italy, Spain, Croatia, Slovenia, Greece and the Czech Republic were found among the documents.
The suspects had lived and worked in the UK for many years. They had changed their addresses several times during their time in the country. Rusev, who also did business in Russia, moved to the UK in 2009 and held a technical position in the financial services industry for three years.
His online LinkedIn profile indicates that he owns a business related to intercepting communications or electronic signals. Rusev also listed the Bulgarian Ministry of Energy as his place of employment, where he said he held an advisory position.
Neighbors of Dzhambazov and Ivanova in Harrow believed they were a married couple. Dzhambazov worked as a driver for hospitals, while Ivanova noted on her LinkedIn profile that she worked as a lab technician for a private medical company.
The couple moved to the UK about 10 years ago and ran a community organization that provided services to Bulgarian citizens. One of the organization’s goals was to introduce newcomers to “the culture and norms of British society”. The couple also worked on election commissions for Bulgarian elections, which were organized for Bulgarian citizens living abroad.
The three suspects are due to stand trial in London in January 2024.
The police counter-terrorism unit said it now had to devote more time to investigating espionage and threats from Russia.
In 2018, Russian agents tried to kill former double agent Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury using the nerve agent Novichok. Before that, in 2006, former Russian intelligence officer Aleksandr Litvinenko died in London after being poisoned with radioactive polonium.
After the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, the capabilities of Russian intelligence services in Europe were greatly reduced, the Washington Post wrote, citing Western intelligence and government officials. The newspaper’s interlocutors said that the Russian security services faced the inability to maintain contacts with agents, preserve agent networks and provide the Kremlin with important information.