the double existence, which lasted a decade, of Sergei and Elena- Corriere.it

In the country since the 1990s, the couple worked for Putin’s secret services. In Moscow they had an apartment in the same building as the Gru operatives involved in the Skripal case and in sabotage and assassinations abroad

true, in the end, they discovered them. For some time has passed since, in the late 1990s, they came to Sweden from Moscow as an ordinary couple. And, having established themselves behind a screen of legality, they turned into illegal ones, spies for the Gruthe Russian military intelligence service: pawns with a double existence burned at dawn a few days ago.

Around 6 in the morning on November 22nd, a team of special forces descended from two helicopters on the house of the targets in the suburb of Nacka, east of Stockholm. A spectacular blitz justified thus by the sources: they had to act quickly to prevent them from eliminating evidence by flushing it down the toilet or destroying the memory of a possible PC. Investigative ideas to complete what was collected by the Sapo — Swedish counterespionage — and the tips of the American FBI, involved in a story written by the protagonists, Sergei Skvortsov and his wife Elena Koulkova: a case that recalls the plot of the extraordinary TV series The Americans and that, above all, the repetition of similar episodes occurred in the West during (and after) the Cold War.

He from 1963, born in Perm, in the Urals, with studies in the energy field; she, a year younger, has a degree in mathematics and cybernetics from Moscow University. We don’t know if they are real details or traces created by their superiors, the legend, the past tense that infiltrators abroad must use in their public contacts. With those references in your pocket, they moved to the Swedish capital dealing with import-export as well as technology. The sleeper couple later regularized their position thanks to the acquisition of citizenship: the woman in 2010, the partner two years later. All steps to make their version of high-level immigrants welcomed by a new hospitable homeland more and more credible. To confirm the family picture, then, came the birth of a son.

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The two first lived in an apartment, then moved to a house, maintaining a confidential profile. Distant kindness towards neighbors but no confidence, to protect the primary mission: to hunt for secrets. According to the indictment, they would have been activated long after their arrival — as of 2013 — targeting both the United States and Sweden. And they carried out their task, committing some errors along the way.

In 2005, one of their companies got into trouble with the tax authorities for alleged irregularities. A stumbling block that could have had worse consequences if the file had ended up in the hands of Sapo: years later it emerged that the company it was part of a network attributable to a company based in Cyprus and linked to a Russian, Vladimir Koulemekov. Not really an unknown to 007, having been expelled in 1981 from France on suspicion of espionage and also ended up in a 1983 US Senate report.

Even more interesting are the details revealed by the investigative site Bellingcat. In 1999, the couple became owners of a flat in a Moscow building: one of the operatives involved in the attack against lived in the same building Russian exile Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, Great Britain, in 2018 e General Andrei Averaniov, believed to be the commander of GRU Unit 29155he team in charge of sabotage and assassinations abroad.

In short, home and work. But it was above all an imprudence, given that the spy condominium was exposed. The idea of ​​concentrating precious elements in the same place is incomprehensible. But perhaps the top management doesn’t care much, the pawns replace each other and they have many. The capture of Sergei and Elena, in fact, follows the indictment again in Sweden of two brothers of Iranian origin, Payam e Peyman Kia, conscripted by Putin’s military intelligence. One of them had belonged to the Sapo himself. The fox was already in the chicken coop.

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November 29, 2022 (change November 29, 2022 | 07:18)

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