Maria Adela Kuhfeldt Rivera’s cover was compromised when her passport numbers were discovered to be within range of two other covert GRU spies. The Russian spy honey-trapped NATO staff in Naples and sold cheap knock-offs as jewellery, according to reports.
She pretended to be a jewelry designer, socialite from Latin America, and nightclub owner. It was only natural to be drawn to Maria Adela Kuhfeldt Rivera’s attractive appearance. One of her fans, a NATO employee based in Naples, Italy, even claimed to having a brief love relationship with her.
But one day Maria abruptly left them all, leaving a mysterious note that seemed to indicate her cancer was the reason for her hasty departure. It turns out that was untrue.
A team of online data sleuths discovered that Maria, alias Olga Kolobova, was a Russian spy who was able to charm her way into the highest levels of NATO in Italy. Back in 2006, Maria entered the murky world of espionage.
Maria was allegedly a GRU “illegal” according to a joint investigation conducted over ten months by the Netherlands-based Bellingcat and media organizations like The Insider in Russia, La Repubblica in Italy, and Der Spiegel in Germany.
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The military intelligence service of Russia, GRU, has been developing ‘illegal’ spies for a long time. For years, these operatives stay undercover in other nations, passing on critical intelligence to the their own government.
The investigative piece came just days after a car bomb explosion outside of Moscow killed the daughter of a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The attack that claimed the life of Darya Dugina on August 20 has been attributed to Ukraine by Russia.
A colorful history about her birth in Callao as the love child of a German father and a Peruvian mother was concocted by the undercover agent. She had claimed that her mother, who was raising her alone, left her behind in the former Soviet Union after going to Moscow to attend the 1980 Summer Olympics.
Maria had used that cover to travel on a number of Russian passports, stopping in Paris, Rome, and Malta before settling in Naples, where she gained access to the highest levels of NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command. She was able to access databases, private legal documents, and images taken on NATO facilities.
In 2012, Maria married a Russian-Ecuadorian guy in between her spying obligations, although their love affair was short-lived. Just one year later, according to the Bellingcat report, the man unexpectedly passed away.
Maria, on the other hand, made friends with affluent people when she traveled over Europe while leading a double life to fulfill her duties. Among those she had interacted with was former Cosmopolitan magazine editor Marcelle D’Argy Smith.
According to the report, Maria’s passport blew her cover. Her passport information was close to that of two other GRU undercover spies, “Ruslan Boshirov” and “Alexander Petrov,” who were charged with the 2018 poisoning of British double spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in England.
The military intelligence service of Russia is known to provide its agents sequentially numbered passports. Investigative journalists have been able to identify the spies as a result, according to Bellingcat, by “simply tracing such batches of numbers” from “data commonly leaked onto the country’s black market.”
Just one day after “Boshirov” and “Petrov” had their cover blown and the GRU’s “tradecraft” for assigning passport numbers had been made public in a separate investigative piece released by Bellingcat and The Insider in September 2018, Maria was able to vacate Italy for Moscow.
Climbed social ladder quickly
Maria was able to accomplish a lot of what she set out to do in her covert capacity. She relocated to Naples in 2015 and launched her jewelry store there. She also accepted the position as secretary for the Lions Club Napoli Monte Nuovo, a nonprofit organization that attracted people from the NATO command center.
She quickly rose to socialite status in Naples. In order to provide her “vibrant international connection,” she was admitted to the Lions Club. According to reports, Maria made friends with German, Italian, and Belgian NATO officers in this club and frequented their social gatherings. According to Bellingcat’s study, one NATO employee who spoke under the condition of anonymity even acknowledged having a brief romantic relationship with her.
Her claim to Peruvian ancestry and her jewelry company were a lie. In a yearly budget report to Congress, the Peruvian Ministry of Justice referred to Maria’s citizen application to the country’s civilian registration as “fraudulent.” It had described the incident to the national prosecutor as “a crime against public safety and faith.”
According to the investigative report, the jewelry she sold in her store was “inexpensive jewelry purchased from Chinese online wholesalers.”
Unaware NATO acquaintances had invited Maria to yearly balls, fundraiser dinners, and US Marine Corps yearly balls; some had even purchased jewelry from her store. According to the report, she also interacted directly and personally with the officers in Naples (both from NATO and the US Navy) and exchanged home visits with them.
After gaining access to digital traces left by Maria with Olga Kolobova’s social media presence, which surfaced soon after the former went missing, Bellingcat and its investigative colleagues deployed facial recognition software and reverse imaging techniques. When the outcome was revealed, the carefully constructed image was finally understood.
Investigators stated in the report that they were unable to determine whether her deployment was terminated despite the fact that she was “not caught by foreign counterintelligence service” and whether “GRU perceived her stint in Europe as a success or failure.”