In a significant development, five individuals suspected of spying for Russia are set to face charges of conspiracy to conduct espionage. The accused, namely Orlin Roussev, Bizer Dzhambazov, Katrin Ivanova, Ivan Stoyanov, and Vanya Gaberova, are scheduled to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.
The Espionage Allegations
The case revolves around the alleged conspiracy to gather information that would be advantageous to an enemy. The period under investigation spans from August 2020 to February 2023. The Metropolitan Police conducted an extensive inquiry, leading to these charges.
A Covert Spy Cell
According to authorities, the defendants are believed to have operated within a covert spy cell affiliated with Russian security services. Their activities purportedly involved conducting surveillance on specific targets. Moreover, they are accused of actively participating in operations across the United Kingdom and Europe, collecting and disseminating information to the Russian state.
Orlin Roussev, 45, is alleged to have played a central role in orchestrating operations from within the UK, acting as a crucial link between the operatives and those receiving the intelligence.
Investigations revealed a trove of allegedly forged passport and official identity documents for various countries, including the UK, Bulgaria, France, Italy, Spain, Croatia, Slovenia, Greece, and the Czech Republic, in properties linked to Mr. Roussev, Mr. Dzhambazov, and Ms. Ivanova.
Notably, some of these documents featured photographs of Mr. Roussev and Mr. Dzhambazov, suggesting that Mr. Roussev might have been involved in the forgery process.
The accused individuals have diverse backgrounds. Mr. Roussev, Mr. Dzhambazov, and Ms. Ivanova have resided in the UK for several years, engaged in various professions, and lived in suburban properties. Mr. Roussev, in particular, has a history of business dealings in Russia, having moved to the UK in 2009, where he initially worked in the financial services sector in a technical role. His LinkedIn profile suggests that he later owned a business specializing in signals intelligence, which involves intercepting communications or electronic signals.
Additionally, Mr. Roussev claims to have served as an advisor to the Bulgarian Ministry of Energy at one point.
Nick Price, the head of the CPS Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division, announced, “The CPS has authorized charges of conspiracy to conduct espionage against three men and two women suspected of spying for Russia. Roussev, Dzhambazov, and Ivanova were previously charged on 11 February 2023 with possession of false identity documents with improper intention under section 4 of the Identity Documents Act 2010.”
The five defendants are scheduled to make their appearance at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 26 September.
A Decade in the UK
Among the accused, Mr. Roussev hails from Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, Mr. Dzhambazov and Ms. Ivanova are residents of Harrow in northwest London, Mr. Stoyanov resides in Greenford, west London, and Ms. Gaberova calls Churchway in northwest London her home. It’s worth noting that the latter two individuals had relocated to the UK around a decade ago and were actively involved in community organizations that provided services to Bulgarian citizens, helping them acclimate to the culture and norms of British society. Additionally, they were reported to have worked with electoral commissions in London, facilitating voting in Bulgarian elections for citizens living abroad.
This case has garnered significant attention due to its potential geopolitical implications and the nature of the charges. As it progresses through the legal system, more details about the alleged espionage activities and the individuals involved are likely to emerge.