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‘Russian spy gang’ lived in an apartment a mile from the RAF base

Three members of a suspected Russian spy ring arrested by anti-terror police lived in a flat a mile from an RAF base used by ministers and the royal family, The Telegraph can reveal.

Bulgarian nationals Orlin Roussev, 45, Bizer Dzhambazov, 41, and his girlfriend, Katrin Ivanova, 31, were detained in a series of intelligence-led raids in London and Norfolk.

For about ten years, all three had ties to a flat in west London, a short distance from RAF Northolt military base. The base is regularly used by members of the Royal Family to fly abroad, but also by ministers and foreign heads of state.

The arrests are said to be the result of a long-running counterintelligence investigation by Scotland Yard.

All three Bulgarian nationals were initially arrested on suspicion of committing offenses under the Official Secrets Act, but were charged with possession of false identity documents after investigators allegedly discovered a stash of counterfeit passports.

Investigations into espionage allegations are ongoing and two other people arrested at the same time have been released on bail by police.

A neighbor on Northolt Street described how Mr. Dzhambazov claimed he worked for Interpol and tried to install a huge satellite dish on the side of the property.

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Mr. Roussev, a tech entrepreneur, specializes in intelligence services, intercepting communications or electronic signals. He also worked as a consultant for the Bulgarian Ministry of Energy and has business ties with Russia.

He was held in a boarding house in the Norfolk seaside town of Great Yarmouth. The guest house is said to be owned by a Bulgarian businesswoman.

Orlin Roussev was held in a boarding house in the Norfolk seaside town of Great Yarmouth – Jason Bye

Mr Dzhambazov and Ms Ivanova were held in their flat in Harrow, where neighbors described them as quiet and unobtrusive. He is said to work as a driver for hospitals, while she describes herself as a laboratory assistant for a medical company in central London.

A spokesperson for The Doctors Laboratory UK confirmed she has worked for the company in the past.

About ten years ago, shortly after moving to the UK, the couple rented a flat in Northolt, close to the A40 west of London. It is also stated that Mr. Roussev lived in the property.

A former neighbor described how Mr. Dzhambazov had told him that he worked for Interpol, the international police organization, and set up a camera outside the premises shortly after moving in.

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The former neighbor told The Telegraph: “I clearly remember one meeting when I followed him into the apartment building and we got talking and he told me he worked for Interpol. He seemed confident and sincere in what he said. I had no reason to doubt him.

“He was a confident man, not afraid to be seen. He drove a black BMW. His partner was riding a silver scooter. She looked very good.”

The neighbor also recalled an “unusual” satellite dish incident, explaining: “I remember their dish was pointing in a different direction than any of the others.

“At one point he had a friend nearby and they tried to put a huge one on the wall. But it would have blocked the light in my flat, so we had words about that and it didn’t happen.

The flat in Northolt is just a mile from RAF Northolt

Northolt flat is just a mile from RAF Northolt – Jamie Lorriman for The Telegraph

Neighbors of another property where the couple lived before their arrest said they had many visitors. One of them explained: “We saw people going in and out regularly. I thought maybe they were running an Airbnb, which is what people around here do.”

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Marin Raykov, Bulgaria’s ambassador to London, said he had not been informed of the arrests, but confirmed that there are official records in Sofia that Ms Ivanova worked as a member of the country’s election commission.

According to Mr Raykov, Ms Ivanova was on the Election Commission for the 2021 early parliamentary elections nominated by an unnamed Bulgarian political party.

In addition to fake passports, the police also allegedly seized identity cards from Bulgaria, France, Italy, Spain, Croatia, Slovenia, Greece and the Czech Republic.

The three defendants were first arrested in February and, after being charged in connection with the false documentation, were remanded in custody. They have yet to plead the charges and will face trial at the Old Bailey in January.

In 2018, two Russian spies used the nerve agent Novichock in an attempt to assassinate former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury. As a result, the local woman Dawn Sturgess died.

The UK has expelled 23 suspected Russian spies following the incident.

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