Alleged Russian spy who used fake Brazilian identity jailed for 15 years

GRUAN ALLEGED RUSSIAN SPY, who used a forged Brazilian identity to travel internationally, has been jailed in Brazil after he was denied entry in Holland, where he had traveled to work as an intern. IntelNews has discussed at length the case of Victor Muller Ferreira, who was outed as a Russian spy by the Netherlands General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) in June. According to Dutch officials, Muller’s real name is Sergey Vladimirovich Cherkasov, and he is a Russian intelligence officer.

According to Muller’s biographical note, he was born to an Irish father and a Spanish-speaking mother in Niteroi (near Rio de Janeiro) on April 4, 1989. However, according to the AIVD, Cherkasov was actually born on September 11, 1985, and has been working for at least a decade for the Main Directorate of the Russian Armed Forces’ General Staff, which is commonly known as GRU. Cherkasov was apprehended by the Dutch authorities as he tried to enter Holland via air. He was en route to The Hague, where he was about to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) as a paid intern. He planned to eventually transition into full-time employment in the ICC, where he “would be highly valuable to the Russian intelligence services”, according to the AIVD.

The AIVD reportedly notified the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service, which detained Cherkasov upon his arrival at Amsterdam’s Airport Schiphol. The Dutch government promptly declared the alleged GRU officer persona non grata and expelled him back to Brazil “on the first flight out”. Last month, a Brazilian federal court in Guarulhos, a suburb of Sao Paolo, found Cherkasov guilty of identity theft that had lasted for at least a decade. The court found that, during that time, Cherkasov used the identity of a dead Brazilian citizen named Victor Muller Ferreira to enter and leave Brazil 15 times. The 10-year period started in 2010, when Cherkasov entered Brazil using his real Russian identity. But when he left the country a few months later, he did so using the forged identity that had allegedly been provided to him by Russian intelligence. Now, according to the British newspaper The Times, Cherkasov has been jailed for 15 years.

Meanwhile, in a separate development, Richard Moore, director of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), claimed last week that half of all Russian spies operating in Europe under diplomatic cover have been expelled since March of this year. Moore was speaking at the annual Aspen Security Forum in the United States. Such expulsions do not relate to alleged intelligence officers like Cherkasov, who do not operate under diplomatic cover. They are therefore far more difficult to detect than their colleagues, who are officially attached to Russian diplomatic missions around the world.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 25 July 2022 | Permalink

Analysis: HUMINT insights from the Muller/Cherkasov case

AIVD HollandAT A TIME WHEN dozens of countries are routinely expelling record numbers of Russian intelligence officers, news of the unmasking of yet another Russian spy is barely newsworthy. However, the case of Sergey Cherkasov/Victor Muller is different. That is because, unlike the vast majority of Russian spies with blown covers, he did not operate under diplomatic protection. This is not necessarily uncommon —in fact, there are probably dozens of Russian case officers operating internationally without diplomatic cover. What is unusual is that one of them has been publicly unmasked. What is more, the case offers some interesting pointers for those interested in contemporary human intelligence (HUMINT).

The Facts

According to the Netherlands General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD), which publicized the case last week, a man using a Brazilian passport attempted to enter Holland in April of this year. His passport had been issued under the name Victor Muller Ferreira, allegedly born to an Irish father and a Spanish-speaking mother in Niteroi (near Rio de Janeiro) on April 4, 1989. However, according to the AIVD, the man’s real name is Sergey Vladimirovich Cherkasov, a citizen of Russia, who was born on September 11, 1985. Based on the information released by Dutch intelligence, Cherkasov is an intelligence officer of the Main Directorate of the Russian Armed Forces’ General Staff, which is commonly known as the GRU.

The AIVD claims that the reason for Cherkasov’s visit to the Netherlands was to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, as a paid intern. He eventually planned to transition into full-time employment in the ICC, where he “would be highly valuable to the Russian intelligence services”. The AIVD reportedly notified the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service, which detained Cherkasov upon his arrival at Amsterdam’s Airport Schiphol. The Dutch government declared the alleged GRU officer persona non grata and promptly expelled him back to Brazil “on the first flight out”.

Cherkasov’s Cover and Legend

Cherkasov arrived in Holland with a cover, a term that refers to a fake operational identity used for purposes of espionage. It is unlikely that his cover was natural, meaning that he is probably not Brazilian by birth —though it is possible that at least one of his parents was/is not Russian by birth. What is more likely is that Cherkasov’s cover is contractual, meaning that it was crafted especially for him by the GRU after he was hired as an intelligence officer. This likely happened as many as 10 years ago, when Cherkasov was in his early 20s. Read more of this post

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