An alleged Russian spy has been arrested in The Bronx. Authorities say the suspect, Evegny Buryakov, 39, had been posing as a banker in New York. A federal criminal complaint accuses him of working as an agent for the Russian intelligence agency SVR.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. His 2 Alleged Spying Comrades Are Protected by the UN
According to the complaint, “Buryakov was posing as an employee in this Manhattan office of a Russian bank.” The documents state that he’s part of a spy-ring that involved two other men, Igor Sporyshev, 40, and Victor Podobnyy, 27. Those two were protected by diplomatic immunity thanks to their part in Russia’s mission to the United Nations in New York City. Igor Sporyshev was a trade representative for Russia, while Podobnyy worked as an attache for Russia’s UN delegation. Neither Sproyshev nor Podobnyy is believed to still be in the U.S. The complaint alleges it was those two who gave assignments to Buryakov. In turn, the reports that Buryakov produced were first relayed to Sporyshev and Podobnyy, and then sent on to Moscow.
In an official statement, Attorney General Eric Holder said:
These charges demonstrate our firm commitment to combating attempts by covert agents to illegally gather intelligence and recruit spies within the United States. We will use every tool at our disposal to identify and hold accountable foreign agents operating inside this country – no matter how deep their cover.
In a separate statement, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said, “The presence of a Russian banker in New York would in itself hardly draw attention today, which is why these alleged spies may have thought Buryakov would blend in.”
You can read the full complaint here:
2. Feds Say Buryakov’s Ring Wanted to Recruit Female Russian Spies But Couldn’t Get ‘Close Enough’
In taped conversations cited in the criminal complaint, Buryakov’s associate, Igor Sporyshev, allegedly moaned to his comrades about how he couldn’t get “close enough” to potential female spies. That conversation was recorded in April 2013. The 40-year-old Sporyshev said, “I have lots of ideas about such girls, but these ideas are not actionable because they don’t allow you to get close enough. And in order to be close you either need to f*ck 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.”
3. The Bank He Worked for Has Been Heavily Sanctioned by the U.S.
ABC News reports that Buryakov works for Russia’s Vnesheconombank in Manhattan. The bank is state run. On his LinkedIn page, Buryakoc says he’s a Deputy Representative at the bank. Since July 2014, the U.S. government has placed sanctions on the bank preventing any U.S. person from providing new financing for Vnesheconombank due to the Russia/Ukraine crisis. Some of the information allegedly relayed to Moscow by Buryakov was related to those sanctions. In the court documents, it reads that Buryakov’s interest in which Russian entities may face U.S. sanctions was “far outside” what someone in his position would be concerned about. In one incident, according to the complaint, Buryakov met an undercover FBI agent who was posing as a wealthy Russian investor. The agent pretended that he wanted to develop a string of casinos.
4. The Last Russian Spies Convicted Got Time Served & Were Shipped Home
The New York Times reports that the investigation into Buryakov “grew out” of an investigation into 10 Russian agents who were “deep cover” back in 2010. The documents state that Buryakov began collecting data in 2012. The case of those agents inspired the T.V. show The Americans. In that case, all of the agents were sentenced to time served and deported back to Russia, reports The Times.
5. The U.S. Hasn’t Executed a Spy in America Since 1951
Though unlikely, it’s possible for the U.S. government to seek the death penalty for Buryakov. No spies have been executed in the U.S. since the case of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. They were executed in 1951 after being convicted of passing on secret data about the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union. The maximum likely penalty facing Buryakov is 10 years in prison.