Emri i vërtetë i Maria Adela është Olga Kolobova dhe ishte një agjente e shërbimit të inteligjencës ushtarake të Rusisë GRU.
Në Napoli, ajo drejtoi kompaninë e saj të bizhuterive, ndërsa arriti të afrohej me disa punonjës të NATO-s, thonë burime anonime dhe të emërtuara për Bellingcat.
Ndër të tjera, Maria Adela përdori përfshirjen e saj në klubin lokal Lions si një mënyrë për t’u afruar me punonjësit e NATO-s që ishin anëtarë atje.
Në një moment ajo madje ofroi të paguante tarifat e anëtarësimit për të gjithë anëtarët e kapitullit lokal të bamirësisë, tha një oficer gjerman i NATO-s për Bellingcat.
Maria Adela u bë shoqe e ngushtë me disa bashkëpunëtorë të NATO-s dhe u përfshi në mënyrë romantike me të paktën një burrë në aleancën e mbrojtjes.
Bellingcat nuk ka mundur të vërtetojë se Adela ka mundur të hyjë në bazën e NATO-s, por ka vizituar disa herë punonjësit në shtëpitë e tyre dhe ka marrë pjesë në disa evente të organizuara nga NATO dhe mbrojtja amerikane.
Maria Adela pretendoi se ajo kishte lindur në Peru nga një baba nga Gjermania, por nëna e saj peruane e kishte lënë në Rusi gjatë Lojërave Olimpike të Moskës 1980.
Sfondi që do të shpjegonte shtetësinë e saj ruse ngriti dyshime tek disa në Napoli.
- Pse dikush do ta braktiste fëmijën e tij në Bashkimin Sovjetik? pyet Shelia Bryant, e cila në atë kohë ishte e lartë në marinën amerikane dhe e vendosur në Evropë.
Nuk mund të thuhet për momentin nëse largimi i papritur i agjentes nga Italia ishte për shkak të përfundimit të misionit apo për shkak se ajo rrezikohej të ekspozohej.
E fundit që miqtë në Napoli dëgjuan nga ai që ata mendonin se ishte një rrjet social që dukej se jetonte vazhdimisht përtej mundësive të tij ishte një mesazh në Whatsapp, tre vjet pas zhdukjes.
”E dashur Marcelle! Ka aq shumë sa nuk do të mund t’i shpjegoj kurrë. Por më mungon shumë” , i ka shkruar ajo mikes së saj Marcelle D’Argy Smith.
Bellingcat ka kontaktuar NATO-n për koment, por nuk ka marrë përgjigje.
KËSHTU U ZBULUA OLGA KOLOBOVA !
Bellingcat, së bashku me Der Spiegel, The Insider dhe La Repubblica, kanë mundur të krijojnë një enigmë provash që vërtetojnë identitetin e Olga Kolobova si agjente e shërbimit të inteligjencës ushtarake ruse GRU.
Filloi me numrin e pasaportës ruse të Maria Adela Kuhfeldt Rivera që përputhej me atë të agjentëve të tjerë të zbuluar në rrjedhjet e mëparshme.
Madje është zbuluar edhe një tentativë për të regjistruar Maria Adela si shtetase peruane.
Autoritetet peruane nuk e miratuan kurrë aplikimin dhe për këtë arsye agjenti supozohet se ka marrë punë me një pasaportë ruse.
Burime anonime dhe me emër kanë treguar sesi Maria Adela u bë shoqe e ngushtë me disa punonjës të NATO-s në Napoli. Bazuar në intervistat, duket se NATO nuk duket të ketë qenë në dijeni që një agjent rus ishte afruar kaq shumë me punonjësit.
Nëpërmjet, ndër të tjera, programeve dixhitale të njohjes së imazheve dhe listave të pasagjerëve të zbuluar nga linjat ajrore, Bellingcat ka mundur të përcaktojë identitetin e Olga Kolobova. Agjenti zotëron, ndër të tjera, dy apartamente luksoze në Moskë.
Të njëjtat imazhe të “Maria Adelës” janë përdorur edhe nga llogaritë e rrjeteve sociale që i përkasin Olga Kolobovës.
Socialite, Widow, Jeweller, Spy: How a GRU Agent Charmed Her Way Into NATO Circles in Italy
Three minutes before midnight on 14 September 2018, the cell phone of Andrey Averyanov began to ring. Despite the late hour, phone records show Maj. General Averyanov, the commander of the GRU’s clandestine operations unit 29155, was still in his office at Russia’s military intelligence service headquarters at Khoroshevskoe Shosse 76 in Moscow.
Earlier that day, Bellingcat and its Russian investigative partner, The Insider, had published an investigation into the cover identities of “Ruslan Boshirov” and “Alexander Petrov”, two undercover GRU spies implicated in the Novichok poisoning of Sergey and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, England. The investigation had blown the lid on a glaring hole in the GRU’s tradecraft: for nearly a decade, Russia’s military intelligence agency had furnished their spies with consecutively numbered passports, allowing investigative journalists who had acquired data commonly leaked onto Russia’s black market to uncover other spies by simply tracing such batches of numbers.
In the hours after Bellingcat’s publication that day, Averyanov had received several phone calls from his top boss – the GRU’s chief Igor Kostyukov. Similarly, Averyanov himself had reached out to many of his subordinates who had been travelling on such passports – including the two spies involved with the failed Montenegro coup in 2016.
The midnight caller was the head of GRU’s Department 5, or the so-called Illegals program – a little-known department that planted military spies around the world under false identities. The two GRU officers talked for just over two minutes.A Note on Call Record Metadata
In 2019 in the course of investigating the Skripal poisoning, we obtained metadata from call records of Maj. General Andrey Averyanov. These records, spanning the period from mid 2017 to late 2019, shed light on an expansive network of spies run by Russia’s military intelligence. The call data contains location, time and calling party data but no content of the communications.
The next day, 15 September 2018, a woman with a long, Latin-sounding name bought a one-way ticket from Naples, Italy, to Moscow. For around a decade, this individual had travelled the world as a cosmopolitan, Peru-born socialite with her own jewellery line. Later that evening, she landed in Moscow and is not known to have left Russia since. She flew on a passport from one of the number ranges Bellingcat had outed the previous day – in fact, hers only differed by one digit from the passports on which Boshirov and Petrov’s GRU boss had flown to Britain just six months earlier.
The name on her passport was Maria Adela Kuhfeldt Rivera, and as Bellingcat and its investigative partners have discovered, she was a GRU illegal whom friends from NATO offices in Naples had for years believed was a successful jewellery designer with a colourful backstory and chaotic personal life.
This joint investigation by Bellingcat, Der Spiegel, The Insider and La Repubblica, was conducted over the course of 10 months. It is based on data from open sources, publicly accessible archives, FOIA data from Peru, leaked Russian databases and interviews with people who had unsuspectingly befriended the Russian spy. Most of the people agreed to be named despite initially fearing speaking publicly about an individual they now understand to be a GRU spy. Yet some of those who spoke did so only on the condition of anonymity because of these concerns.
Inventing ‘Maria Adela’
On 8 August 2005, the Civil Registration office of the Independencia District in Lima, Peru, received an application for inscription of a new Peruvian citizen into the country’s national citizen database. The would-be citizen stated that her name was Maria Adela Kuhfeldt Rivera, and her lawyers presented a birth certificate from the civil registry of the seaside town of Callao. The birth certificate was dated 1 September 1978 and carried the sequential number 1109 on Peru’s record of births for that year.
According to a letter from the Peruvian civilian registry reviewed by Bellingcat, the civil officer handling the case put the application on hold and requested additional evidence for the actual birth of Maria Adela.
On 19 August 2005, “Maria Adela”’s lawyers submitted an extra document: a baptism certificate from the Cristo Liberador parish in Callao. According to the church document, baby Maria Adela was born on 1 September 1978, and was baptised two weeks later, on 14 September 1978.
The Lima civil officer was not convinced and reached out for verification to the parish priest at the Cristo Liberador dioceses, the Rvd. José Enrique Herrera Quiroga. Unluckily for the citizen-in-waiting, the priest would not even have had to check the church records to report that the document was fake. He had had the honour of being the founder and inaugural priest at this church which was established in 1987, nine years after the supposed baptism of Maria Adela had taken place. The website of the Cristo Liberador dioceses details the date it was founded, something a representative of the parish confirmed when Bellingcat contacted it.
On 22 December 2006, in an annual budget report to the Congress of Peru, the Peruvian Ministry of Justice reported that its migration and naturalisation office had discovered three fraudulent citizenship applications in 2005, one of them being that of “Maria Adela”. The report concluded that this person’s identity is unknown and referred the case as a crime against public safety and faith to the national prosecutor.
Take Two: The Moscow Olympic Child
Even though Maria Adela’s Peruvian citizenship was stillborn, her GRU commanders – likely unaware that the Peruvian government would make this false start public – decided to persist with this identity for their spy. The reason for their persistence is unknown.
Whatever it was, “Maria Adela” received her first Russian passport in 2006, using exactly the same name and birth date. According to the cover identity that was created for her, she worked as a “leading specialist” at Moscow State University and lived at a Moscow address as far back as 2010, according to registration databases. Those who live there now told us they had never heard of her.
Notably, the domestic Russian passport issued to “Maria Adela” belonged to a range that GRU had issued for domestic passports of at least six other GRU spies, including an officer indicted in the poisoning of Bulgarian arms manufacturer Emilian Gebrev, and another officer involved in the poisoning of Sergey Skripal. Based on the proximity of the passport numbers and the known issuance date of the other passports, we can estimate that “Maria Adela” received her Russian identity papers in November or December 2006 – just before the Peruvian Ministry of Justice would publicly burn her identity, albeit on a little visited website.
Based on interviews with four people whom “Maria Adela” befriended in the next decade, she told those she met the following back story of her name and origin: she was the love child of a German father and a Peruvian mother, and was born in Callao, Peru. Her single mother had travelled with little “Maria Adela” to the Soviet Union in 1980, to attend the Olympic Games in Moscow. However, her mother had received an emergency message from Peru that required her to return home urgently – and left little “Maria Adela” in the care of a Soviet family that she had apparently befriended.
Her mother never returned, and “Maria Adela” grew up in Russia, having a difficult relationship with both her adoptive mother and her father, who – she told people – abused her in her childhood years. The latter, she told people she befriended, was the reason she did not want to live in Russia – or marry a Russian man – and explained her desire to live and create a family in Western Europe.
Rome, Malta, Paris
Bellingcat was unable to discover travel data for “Maria Adela” prior to October 2011 due to the partial nature of the available trip databases. However, a scattering of social media posts showing her in other people’s photos place her in Malta and Rome in the period between 2009 and 2011.
Marcelle D’Argy Smith, former editor of the UK edition of Cosmopolitan magazine, became close friends with “Maria Adela” whom she met over drinks in Malta in the summer of 2010. “Maria Adela” lived in Malta with her then boyfriend, but at some point moved to Ostia, near Rome, to take classes in gemology. Maria tried hard to obtain a German passport on account of her German father, Ms. D’Argy Smith said, but the process stalled after “Maria Adela” suddenly appeared to lose interest.
The earliest international travel records for “Maria Adela” found by Bellingcat are from 10 October 2011, when she took the first of many two-and-a-half-day train rides from Moscow to Paris via Belarus. The passport she travelled on during this trip and over the next few years was issued in August 2011 and had the number 643258050 – only a few numbers away from that of “Sergey Fedotov”, one of the senior officers GRU’s black-ops unit 29155.