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Russian Spies in Bronx Considered Seducing New York College Students: FBI

By Eddie Small | January 26, 2015 6:55pm
 Evgeny "Zhenya" Buryakov was arrested and charged with serving a foreign government in the United States without notifying the Attorney General.
Evgeny "Zhenya" Buryakov was arrested and charged with serving a foreign government in the United States without notifying the Attorney General.
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THE BRONX —  A Russian tasked with gathering information on potential American sanctions against Russian banks and American efforts to develop alternative energy sources was arrested by the FBI in Riverdale on Monday, officials said.

Evgeny "Zhenya" Buryakov, 39, worked in the United States as an agent for the Russian foreign intelligence agency known as the SVR while posing as an employee in a Russian bank's Manhattan office, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. He has been charged with acting as a foreign government agent in the United States without first notifying the Attorney General.

The FBI also announced charges on Monday against Igor Sporyshev, 40, and Victor Podobnyy, 27, for aiding Buryakov's efforts. Neither suspect still lives in the United States and they have not been arrested.

The group was caught on wire surveillance musing about seducing New York college women, complaining about how the job was "not even close" to James Bond movies and talking general tradecraft.

The FBI had been watching Buryakov and Sporyshev since at least March 2012 through September 2014 and saw them meet more than four dozen times. Buryakov passed a bag, magazine or slip of paper to Sporyshev during several of these meetings, which were almost always preceded by a short telephone call where one man told the other he had something to give him.

The two often said they had to meet to give one another tickets, but the FBI never saw them going to or discussing events that would normally be ticketed, apart from one conversation where they talked about seeing a movie.

Sporyshev and Podobnyy both worked for the SVR but posed as official Russian representatives in the United States, and their efforts to get information included telling Buryakov to gather intelligence, transmitting his reports back to the SVR in Moscow and trying to recruit New Yorkers to be Russian intelligence sources.

Sporyshev and Podobnyy tried to recruit several young women connected to an undisclosed university in New York as intelligence sources, but Sporyshev was frustrated by trying to recruit females, according to the criminal complaint.

"I have lots of ideas about such girls but these ideas are not actionable because they do not allow you to get close enough," he said, according to court documents. "And in order to be close you either need to [expletive] them or use other levers to influence them to execute my requests. So when you tell me about girls, in my experience, it's very rare that something workable will come of it."

Podobnyy's method of recruiting sources often included cheating, promising favors and getting rid of the source once he or she was no longer needed, according to the FBI.

"This is intelligence method to cheat, how else to work with foreigners?" Podobnyy said, according to the criminal complaint. "You promise a favor for a favor. You get the documents from him and tell him to go [expletive] himself."

Buryakov had several meetings with an undercover FBI source over the summer who posed as the relative of a wealthy investor looking to develop casinos in Russia. He took documents from the source that supposedly contained information about American sanctions against Russia and demonstrated a "strong desire to obtain information about subjects far outside the scope of his work as a bank employee," according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

"New York City may be more hospitable to Russian businessmen than during the Cold War," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement, "but my office and the FBI remain vigilant to the illegal intelligence-gathering activities of other nations.”