Slovenia detains couple suspected of spying for Russia
Two spies have been detained in Slovenia for collecting intelligence in favor of Russia under the guise of an Argentine couple
The Guardain reported the information.
The people suspected of spying are Maria Mayer and Ludwig Gisch. In 2017, they allegedly moved from Argentina and settled in Ljubljana, Slovenia, with their two young children. The reason for their move was fear of street crime in Argentina. Having moved to Slovenia, Mayer opened an online art gallery, and Gish ran an IT startup.
Most of the couple's neighbors and friends described them as “ordinary” neighbors. They said the couple was a run-of-the-mill family whose children often played outside.
Law enforcement agencies in Slovenia received intelligence that the couple was actually spying for Russian intelligence, specifically Russia's SVR foreign intelligence service, under the "sleeper agent" program. They arrived in the country under false names. One of the spies has Argentine citizenship.
During the searches in the alleged spies' office, large amounts of cash were found, which, according to the outlet, was used to pay for the couple's duties to Russian unofficial agents or informants. The couple's children were taken into social care.
The Guardian writes that Mayer and Gish are so-called “illegal” SVR agents. Unlike "legal" officers of Russian intelligence, "illegal" officers operate without visible ties to Russia. They have been learning to impersonate foreigners for years and have South American citizenship. Most of them also have children who do not even suspect that their parents are Russian.
One of the publication's sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, noted that in private conversations, Russian representatives quickly admitted that the detainees were officers of the Russian Federation's Intelligence Service.
On March 9, the Slovenian parliamentary committee on foreign policy rejected a resolution that would recognize Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, but condemned the invasion of Ukraine.