Andrei Bezrukov, 61, and his wife Elena Vavílova, 58, both former agents of the KGB and the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), maintained contacts with Josep Lluis Alay, a senior collaborator of the former president of the Generalitat, Carles Puigdemont, with the aim of seeking the help of the Kremlin to enable the secession of Catalonia. This is assured by a European intelligence report to which the American newspaper ‘The New York Times’ has had access.
This couple of ‘sleeper agents’ or ‘undercover’ operated in the United States under the false names of Donald Heathfield and Tracey Foley until June 2010, when they were discovered and arrested by the FBI, along with eight other Russian spies. Everybody
they inspired the television series ‘The Americans’ and were exchanged for four Russian double agents who had worked for the West and were therefore sentenced in Russia to different prison terms.
Back in Moscow, Bezrúkov and Vavílova admitted to having made “mistakes” that put the FBI on the trail of their espionage activities. Apparently, no new mission was assigned to them until, supposedly, Alay asked the Russian businessman based in Catalonia, Alexander Dmitrenko, your help to contact the Russian leadership in request of assistance to make a Catalan state independent of Spain a reality.
According to a text message obtained by the Police from Alay’s mobile phone in October 2020, it alluded to the agents of the series ‘The Americans’, in reference to Bezrúkov and his spouse. He met with him first and then with Vavílova, whom he helped translate his autobiographical novel into Catalan ‘The woman who knows how to keep secrets‘. Dmitrenko, married to a Catalan woman and denied Spanish nationality in 2019, also participated in the translation. The Russian businessman and Alay are linked to the creation of the radical group Tsunami Democràtic, although they both deny it.
Discovered by the FBI
According to a documentary by the American network CBS released last year, the FBI learned of the presence in the United States of several groups of Russian spies since 2000. They posed as Americans, acquired false identity, they worked or studied there and all with the aim of accessing circles where they could obtain confidential security information.
Among them were Donald Heathfield (Bezrúkov), Tracey Foley (his wife), Michael Zottoli (Mikhail Kútsik), Patricia Mills (Natalia Perevérzeva), Juan Lázaro (Mijaíl Vasenkov) and Richard and Cynthia Murphy (Vladimir Guríev and Lidia Guríeva). Also the explosive redhead Anna Chapman, who did not have to change her identity as she was married to a British man, and the Peruvian Vicky Peláez. Mikhail Semenko was the only one who did not hide his identity.
They were exchanged for four ‘traitors’: the Russian scientist, weapons specialist, Igor Sutiaguin, who was serving a 15-year prison sentence in Russia; the former colonel of the GRU (military intelligence), Sergei Skripal, sentenced to 13 years in prison and victim of a ‘novichok’ attack in Salisbury, and former SVR informant, Alexander Zaporozhski, in a prison since 2003 and with an 11-year sentence that he still had ahead of him. It is believed that he may have been involved in the US arrest of the moles in Moscow’s service to the CIA and the FBI, Aldrich Ames and Robert Hansen. Finally Guennadi Vasilenko, from the former KGB, also related to the Hansen case.
Bezrúkov, graduation colonel Born in the Siberian town of Kansk, he is currently an advisor to the Russian state oil company Rosneft, a professor at the Moscow State Institute of Foreign Relations (MGIMO), a member of the Russian Defense and Foreign Policy Council and a columnist for the daily Izvestia. Vavílova, also a colonel in the reserve, came to the world in the Siberian city of Tomsk, works at the Norilski Níkel company, the world’s largest nickel producer. He is fluent in English, French and German. The couple is a regular at various television gatherings and has two sons, Timoféi and Alexander.