Five Bulgarians accused of spying for Russia appeared in court on Tuesday for an initial hearing. The three men and two women were charged with conspiring to collect information intended for Russia between August 2020 and February 2021. Prosecutors allege that the suspects were part of a network conducting surveillance on behalf of Russia, with coordination taking place in the UK. Orlin Roussev, Bizer Dzhambazov, Katrin Ivanova, Ivan Stoyanov, and Vanya Gaberova appeared via video at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London. The suspects, currently in custody in separate prisons, confirmed basic details during the hearing.
In February, Roussev, Dzhambazov, and Ivanova were charged with possessing false identity documents. However, news about their arrest did not emerge until August. The three individuals are accused of possessing 34 ID documents, some of which were suspected to be false, from various countries including the UK, Bulgaria, Italy, Croatia, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic. The suspects were arrested by the Metropolitan Police’s counterterrorism officers under the Official Secrets Act.
The identities and operational details of the suspects remain limited. Roussev reportedly worked in telecoms services and owned a company named NewGenTech, according to his LinkedIn profile. He was residing in a guesthouse in Great Yarmouth, a town on England’s eastern coast, at the time of his arrest. Ivanova’s online profile describes her as a medical laboratory assistant, while government records indicate that Gaberova was a beautician who ran a salon called Pretty Woman in west London since 2019.
The suspects were accused of conspiring to collect information with an individual known as Jan Marsalek and others unknown. Marsalek, an Austrian national and former chief operating officer of German payment systems provider Wirecard, is not charged in connection with this case. He has been on the run since the summer of 2020, and his current whereabouts remain unknown.
All five suspects have been remanded into custody until their next appearance at the Central Criminal Court on October 13.