Mystery surrounds arrest of alleged Russian spy couple in Sweden

Russian Embassy SwedenNUMEROUS UNANSWERED QUESTIONS SURROUND the arrest of a Russian married couple in Sweden, on charges of espionage. The arrest took place in dramatic fashion in the early hours of Tuesday, November 22. According to the Swedish media, members of the security forces descended via tactical ropes from two Blackhawk helicopters, as startled residents in the typically quiet Stockholm suburb of Nacka looked on.

The raid was apparently conducted based on information received by Sweden’s counterintelligence agency, the Swedish Security Service (SAPO), coupled with tips from the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The targets of the operation were Sergei Nikolaevich Skvortsov and Elena Mikhailovna Kulkova, a Russian-born married couple, who moved to Sweden from Russia in 1999. According to their identity documents, Skvortsov was born in Perm on July 28, 1963, and Kulkova in Moscow on May 22, 1964.

Both Skvortsov and Kulkova are university-educated, with a background in science, mathematics and cybernetics. Upon settling in Sweden, they worked in the import-export technology sector. By 2013 they had become Swedish citizens and had a son. Kulkova also had a daughter from a previous marriage. The Russian investigative source The Insider reports that Kulkova’s daughter’s boyfriend worked for Swedish military intelligence.

Swedish authorities allege that the two suspects migrated to Stockholm on orders of the Main Directorate of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff, known as GRU. The GRU allegedly did not activate them until after they had acquired Swedish citizenship. According to the court indictment, Skvortsov and Kulkova began to actively spy against the United States in 2013 and against Sweden in 2014.

Some sources claim that the case of the Russian couple may be connected to the recent arrests of Payam and Peyman Kia, two Iranian-born Swedish brothers, who were arrested in 2021 and are now facing charges of engaging in espionage on behalf of the GRU. Payam Kia worked for SAPO and had access to classified information from a host of Swedish government agencies. SAPO reportedly launched the probe in 2017, following suspicions that it harbored a spy in its personnel ranks.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 05 December 2022 | Research credit: A.G. | Permalink

5 Responses to Mystery surrounds arrest of alleged Russian spy couple in Sweden

  1. Warszawski says:

    Coming soon on your TV : A Swedish version of THE AMERICANS…

  2. Mr. Fitsanakis: I very much appreciate your reporting. Details, well sourced, specific, to the point, no speculative commentary. Sincerely, Robert Wallace

  3. Andrew Kidd says:

    I agree with Mr. Wallace, I app your detailed reporting. To the point and no speculation. Respectfully, Andrew Kidd

  4. Pete says:

    Whats more “The Insider and Bellingcat found out, Skvortsov and Kulkova [when in Moscow] lived …at 36 Zorge Street, next door to one of the three Skripal poisoners [who were GRU officers]” See and

    It is interesting Sweden used the unusual tactic, for counter-espionage, of special forces helicopter insertion. I suspect such a need for haste was out of concern “Kulkova’s daughter’s boyfriend [who] worked for Swedish military intelligence” might inadvertently tipoff the daughter (and hence Kulkova) that the Swedish authorities were on to them.

  5. F. Adams says:

    Not surprising that they weren’t activated until they had citizenship, its old school though. That’s exactly how Vladimir Rezun writing as “Viktor Suvrov” described GRU production with Illegals in 1984’s “Inside Soviet Military Intelligence”. According to him they usually infiltrated married folks with children they could use as hostages between 9 and 17 years of age, and wouldn’t start using them to produce anything until they had at least permanent residency or citizenship in the targeted country. Not much has changed, or at the very least in this case its the same MO.

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