An investigation carried out by the investigative collective Bellingcat, in collaboration with the newspapers Der Spiegel, La Repubblica and The Insider revealed on August 25 the incredible story of a Neapolitan jeweler, who in reality turned out to be an agent infiltrated into NATO, on behalf of the General Directorate of Russian Intelligence (GRU).
A spy like no other. “Maria Adela Kuhfeldt Rivera”, a supposed Russian-Peruvian jeweller, based in Naples (Italy), was unmasked following a long investigation by the Bellingcat and the editorial staff of Der Spiegel, La Repubblica and The Insider. The jewelry designer had actually been working for Russian military intelligence for about ten years.
It all starts in a very famous club
Arrived in 2015 in the Parthenopean city, the young woman opened a luxury jewelry store called “Serein”, then quickly rose in Neapolitan society before joining the secretariat of a famous club in the city.
Jewelery designer then employee of a reputable very exclusive club, “the Lions”, the spy climbs step by step the steps of worldliness until rubbing shoulders with certain officers of the transatlantic alliance (NATO) who frequent the place and with whom she maintains tumultuous relations.
Having become intimately close to several senior officers, Maria Adela is invited to numerous events organized by the Alliance or the American army and is led to go to the homes of the latter to visit them.
By multiplying the trips, the young woman multiplies the contacts. Malta, Paris, Rome and then the latest before completely disappearing from the radar: Bahrain in the Middle East. There, moreover, she met a few years earlier the Prime Minister of the time, Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa to whom she had “offered” cufflinks.
Social networks as a springboard
The rise of the agent would never have been possible without social networks. Indeed, between Facebook and Instagram, Maria Adela Kuhfeldt Rivera managed to build a whole new identity for herself: fake marriage, pet, night out or even shopping, everything was controlled so that she was perceived as “everyone. “.
But not only. The investigation also reveals the singular character of this illegal GRU: she had a Russian passport. Usually, spies conceal their links with the country for which they work. According to the cover identity created for her, she was working as a “senior specialist” at Moscow State University and living at an address in Moscow as of 2010.
A first misstep in Peru
Doubts began to emerge on August 8, 2005, when the Civil Registry Office of the District of Independencia in Lima, Peru, received a request to register a new Peruvian citizen in the national database of citizens of the country. The potential citizen claims to be called “Maria Adela Kuhfeldt Rivera” and her lawyers present a birth certificate, dated September 1, 1978, from the civil registry of the seaside town of Callao, before joining it two weeks later a second document attesting to the woman’s baptism at the Cristo Liberador church.
Only problem, the reverend supposed to have baptized her, asked to verify the authenticity of the documents, does not know her. Indeed, the priest would not even have had to check the parish registers to point out that the document was false. For good reason, he had the honor of being the founder of this place of worship founded in 1987, nine years after the supposed baptism of the Russian-Peruvian.
blanket discovery or mission accomplished?
It was in 2018 that the fictitious “Maria Adela” evaporated. She leaves Italy, never to return. None of his acquaintances questioned by the Bellingcat were not informed of this departure. However, two months later, she published a last enigmatic message on her Facebook page where she alluded to having suffered from cancer.
A cover discovered or a mission that has simply come to an end. One thing is certain, this message was considered as a way of endorsing this life.
After numerous investigations and “solid” data, thanks in particular to facial recognition, Bellingcat was finally able to reveal the identity of the Russian spy, actually named Olga Kolobova, a Russian citizen born in 1982. She is the daughter of a director of the military faculty of the University of the Urals in Yekaterinburg, also a former colonel of the armed forces and who notably served in Angola, Iraq and Syria.
This is not the first time that Russian spies have infiltrated or attempted to infiltrate administrations. Last June, the Dutch secret services indicated that they had prevented a russian spy access as an intern at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The latter had in fact carefully constructed an identity over several years by inventing a life down to the smallest detail and was to begin a “six-month trial period at the International Criminal Court as a junior analyst at the preliminary examinations section.