Russian sleeper agent Mikhail Vasenkov reportedly dead at 79

Mikhail VasenkovRUSSIAN DEEP-COVER SPY Mikhail Vasenkov, who was caught by authorities in the United States in 2010, and was later part of a multi-person spy-swap between Washington and Moscow, has reportedly died. Vasenkov was an officer for the Soviet-era Committee for State Security (KGB), under which he constructed his non-official cover identity. In 1976, he reportedly arrived in Lima, Peru, from Madrid, Spain. He traveled on a Uruguayan passport bearing the name “Juan Jose Lazaro Fuentes”. The forged identity had been constructed by the Soviet KGB. The spy agency had used the birth certificate of a Uruguayan child, who had died of respiratory failure in 1947.

In 1979, Lazaro applied for, and was granted, Peruvian citizenship. A few years later, he met and married Peruvian journalist Vicky Pelaez, with whom he had a son. In 1985, the Lazaros moved to New York, along with their child and a son Pelaez had from a previous relationship. The couple were arrested by the FBI in 2010, and later admitted being in the service of Russian intelligence. They were among 10 Russian non-official-cover intelligence officers, who were swapped for a number of Western-handled intelligence agents held in Russian prisons.

In January of 2020, the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), which is one of the KGB’s successor agencies, admitted for the first time that Vasenkov had been an intelligence officer. This unusual announcement directly contradicted Vasenkov’s own claims 10 years earlier: the spy had allegedly said that he was not Russian, did not understand or speak Russian, and wanted to move to Peru.

On April 6 of this this month, the SVR announced Vasenkov’s death, saying he was 79 years old. The announcement gave no cause of death. It added that Vasenkov had served in the so-called “special reserve staff” of the organization, which refers to spies who do not operate under diplomatic cover abroad. The obituary noted that Vasenkov had “created and headed an illegal residency”, which “obtained valuable political information, that was highly appreciated” by Russian decision-makers. It also said that Vasenkov had acquired the rank of colonel in 2005.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 22 April 2022 | Permalink

Russian spy agency reveals identities of undercover officers in rare move

Sergei NaryshkinIn an extremely rare move, the head of Russia’s spy agency has disclosed the identities of several undercover officers during an event marking the centenary of the KGB and its modern-day successor, the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, or SVR.

The identities of the officers —most of whom are now retired or dead— were disclosed on Tuesday by Sergei Naryshkin, head of the SVR. Speaking at a press conference in Moscow, Naryshkin revealed the names and read the brief biographical notes of seven non-official-cover officers, referred to in Russian as “pазведчики-нелегалы”, or ‘illegals’. The term refers to undercover intelligence officers who are secretly posted abroad without diplomatic cover. Accordingly, they have no official connection to a Russian diplomatic facility, while some even pose as citizens of third countries.

Since 1922, illegals have operated out of the KGB’s and (after 1991) the SVR’s “S” Directorate, whose formal title is First Main Directorate or First Chief Directorate. It is customary to keep the identities of illegals secret following their retirement and even after death. However, in December of last year Naryshkin surprised many by announcing that he would soon disclose the identities of a number of former members of what he described as the “special reserve staff”, at an event to mark the centenary of the KGB and SVR.

He did so on Tuesday, when he disclosed the names of seven individuals and described their work in broad terms. The names disclosed by Naryshkin were: Yury Anatolievich Shevchenko (born 1939), Yevgeny Ivanovich Kim (1932-1998), Mikhail Anatolyevich Vasenkov (born 1942), Vitaly Viacheslavovich Netyksa (1946-2011) and his spouse Tamara Ivanovna Netyksa (born 1949), Vladimir Iosifovich Lokhov (1924-2002) and Vitaly Alekseyevich Nuykin (1939-1998).

The accompanying biographies released by the SVR disclose no specifics about the countries in which these illegals operated, the type of work they carried out, and the specific dates in which they were active. Most of them operated between the late 1960s and the early 1990s.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 29 January 2020 | Permalink

US revokes Peruvian ex-defense minister’s visa over alleged spy links

Vicky Peláez and  Mikhail VasenkovBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS| intelNews.org |
The United States has allegedly revoked an entry visa previously issued to the former Deputy Minister of Defense of Peru, over suspicions that he is connected to a major Russian espionage ring found operating in the United States. Fabián Novak had his visa revoked after he was allegedly included on a list drawn by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, containing names of individuals connected to a Russian illegals program caught operating in the US in 2010. According to El Comercio, Peru’s oldest newspaper, Novak, who served as the country’s Deputy Defense Minster between 2006 and 2008, met repeatedly with two members of the 11-member Russian spy ring, which was busted in a series of coordinated raids across several US states in July of 2010. The Lima-based daily quotes an anonymous “high-level [US] government source” who claims that Novak directly contacted two of the 11 Russian spies, who entered the United States from Peru, using Uruguayan and Peruvian travel documentation. The two, Vicky Peláez, who posed as a journalist, and her husband Mikhail Anatolyevich Vasenkov (alias Juan Lazaro), an adjunct professor, were among nearly a dozen Russian illegals swapped less than two weeks after their arrests by the FBI with several CIA spies held in Russian prisons. The El Comercio source claimed that, according to the FBI, Novak met with two officials from the Russian embassy in Lima at least twice, in 2001 and 2006, to discuss the activities of Peláez and Vasenkov in the US. Read more of this post

Swapped spy says he is not Russian, wants to move to Peru

Mikhail Vasenkov

Mikhail Vasenkov

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
One of the 11 Russian spies arrested in the US in June, and later swapped with CIA assets held in Russian prisons, claims he is not Russian, speaks no Russian, and wants to move to Peru, where he lived in the 1970s. Juan Lazaro was arrested by the FBI on June 27, along with 9 other (and later one more) Russian deep-cover operatives, who had lived in the United States under false identities for up to three decades. Lazaro, who lived in Yonkers, New York, had a doctorate in Political Science, worked as an adjunct professor, and was married to Peruvian-born journalist Vicky Pelaez. But FBI investigators unmasked Lazaro’s real name, which is Mikhail Vasenkov, before deporting him and his wife, who is also accused of working for the Russian secret services, to Moscow. According to FBI records, Vasenkov assumed the Juan Lazaro identity and ‘legend’ (biographical narrative and supporting documentation for intelligence purposes) while living in Latin America in the 1970s, using the papers of the real Juan Lazaro, an Uruguayan child who died at age 3. But now Vasenkov’s American lawyer, Genesis Peduto, claims her client is not from Russia, speaks no Russian, but is in fact the real Juan Lazaro, and wishes to leave Russia for Peru. Read more of this post

%d bloggers like this: