The investigative team claims to have uncovered the identity of a covert spy from Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU. During his decade, GRU dressed as a Latin American jewelery designer and partyed with Naples-based NATO staff.
Investigators said the woman, named Maria Adela Kufert Rivera, told people she met that she was the child of a German father and a Peruvian mother in the city of Callao, Peru.
In fact, according to Bellingcat’s research in collaboration with a number of media outlets, including Italy’s La Repubblica and Germany’s Der Spiegel, she is a GRU career officer from Russia, which she shared with The Guardian before publication. was
“Libera” was what intelligence agencies called illegal, a deep-seated investigator trained to pose as an alien. Moscow’s intelligence services have been using illegal immigrants since the early days of the Soviet Union. Sometimes they continue to live with false identities for decades.
Disguised as “Libera,” the illegal immigrants moved between Rome, Malta, and Paris, eventually settling in Naples, home of NATO’s Joint Forces Command, around 2013.
An acquaintance of her said that taking on the role of secretary at the Naples chapter of the International Lions Club allowed her to become familiar with many NATO staff and other affiliates. , said he had a brief romantic relationship with “Libera.”
Traditionally, it has been very difficult for counterintelligence agencies to find outlaws, but in a world of biometric data, facial recognition software, and the potential of open source investigations, Russia is keeping offenders under the radar. It’s getting more and more difficult.
Bellingcat CEO and lead investigator Christo Grozev said in an interview that he saw a database of leaked border crossings recorded by the Belarusian border guards and provided by a rival hacker group, which he identified as a possible GRU. He said he was the first to discover that traces were illegal. to the government of Alexander Lukashenko.
Grozev searched for Russian passport numbers known to have been used by GRU operatives and found numerous hits. Most had Russian names, but one that stood out was Maria Adela Kufert Rivera.
Closer inspection of “Libera” reveals that Grozev has identified several Russian guns with serial numbers in the range used by other known GRU operatives, including an officer indicted on suspicion of Novichok poisoning of Bulgarian arms dealer Emilian Gebrev. I discovered that I traveled with a passport of Another of his GRU officers was reportedly involved in the 2018 attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury.
He also discovered that on September 15, 2018, “Rivera” bought a ticket from Naples to Moscow. The day before, Bellingcat and its Russian investigative partner, Insider, published an article about two poisoners in Salisbury who traveled under cover, Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov, alleging fraud in their passport data. , pointing out that they had links to security services.
“Libera” was apparently taken down by his superiors who feared other operatives with similar passport numbers could be endangered. It doesn’t look like she left Russia again.
Two months after suddenly leaving Naples, she posted a Facebook status in Italian.
“That’s the truth I finally have to reveal… my hair is growing very short after chemo, but it’s there. I miss everything but I’m trying to breathe,” she said. wrote.
While some GRU illegal aliens travel abroad only for short-term assignments and change IDs regularly, others, like ‘Libera’, live in the same cover ID for years. spend time in
In June, the Netherlands deported a man who arrived on a Brazilian passport under the name of Victor Muller Ferreira, accused of being an illegal Russian alien named Sergei Vladimirovich Cherkasov. was suspected of spending 10 years preparing his identity, including studying in Ireland and the United States, and attempting to infiltrate the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
What’s unusual about “Libera” is that she traveled on a Russian passport, usually when illegal aliens disguise their ties to Russia or the Soviet Union. Previous attempts to impersonate “Libera” as a Peruvian citizen appear to have failed. According to a 2006 Peruvian official document, her citizenship application was rejected as fraudulent.
Apparently, the GRU was unfazed by the setback and reinstated the identity of “Kuhfeldt Rivera” on her Russian passport. You may not have wanted to.
Many people who met “Kufert Rivera” said that her Peruvian mother took her to the Soviet Union in 1980 and left her there. It looks like you’ve tried different routes over the years.
Bellingcat said it had identified the real Russian woman behind the fake “Libera” persona based on collating information and photos from various databases and open source research. She did not respond to the Guardian’s request for comment.