Neighbours reveal suburban lives of trio charged in police probe

Neighbours have revealed the suburban lives of suspected Russian spies who lived subsequent door to a police officer for years.

Bulgarian nationals Orlin Roussev, 45, Biser Dzhambazov, 42, and Katrin Ivanova, 31, had been arrested in February as a part of a significant police sting however earlier than that appeared to have held down extraordinary jobs.

The trio have been charged with possessing false passports and ID playing cards and different paperwork “with improper intention” after counterterrorism police swooped on properties in Harrow and Great Yarmouth.

They are mentioned to have recognized the paperwork for nations together with the UK, Bulgaria, France, Italy, Spain, Greece and the Czech Republic had been pretend. Police additionally allegedly discovered Discovery and National Geographic tv channel uniforms, reportedly used to hold out surveillance operations.

Their neighbours spoke of their shock on Tuesday as particulars started to emerge of the seemingly innocuous years they’ve spent in Britain.

Locals mentioned that Mr Dzhambazov and Ms Ivanova, who lived on the similar deal with as a pair in a “quiet cul de sac” in Harrow, had been a “friendly” couple recognized to them as Max and Kate. They “kept a low profile” and even lived subsequent door to a police officer, one neighbour mentioned.

The pair had been concerned in a group organisation offering companies to Bulgarian folks and had been mentioned to have labored for electoral commissions in London which assist Bulgarian expats to vote.

Simon Corsini, 49, who has owned Gino’s Cafe within the leafy northwest London city for 25 years, mentioned: “I just don’t get it – there’s nothing here, the outskirts of Harrow.”

A person who works in a retailer a couple of doorways down described Mr Dzhambazov as “just like a normal Joe Bloggs”, somebody who was “in and out” of his store like anybody else.

A close-by resident, who didn’t wish to be named, advised The Independent he would steadily greet Mr Dzhambazov and Ms Ivanova, describing them as “friendly, chatty, normal neighbours”, who lived with Ms Ivanova’s mom and had been initially from the Bulgarian capital Sofia.

Basir Dzhambazov and Katrin Ivanova lived in Harrow subsequent door to a police officer, whereas Orlin Roussev lived in Great Yarmouth


Mr Dzhambazov labored as a driver for hospitals, transporting blood from one blood financial institution to a different, he mentioned, whereas Ms Ivanova ran a gaggle supporting immigrants settling into their new nation, serving to them to seek out lodging and jobs.

She writes on her LinkedIn profile that she is a medical laboratory assistant for a personal well being enterprise.

The former neighbour mentioned the couple loved happening journeys overseas and having barbecues collectively of their again backyard, whereas Mr Dzhambazov would typically do weightlifting at his residence with a good friend.

Dahlia Kaholaif, 37, who has lived within the neighbourhood for 3 years together with her younger youngsters, thought she recognised Ms Ivanova however mentioned the pair had been individuals who “kept to themselves”.

She mentioned: “The neighbourhood is a friendly one, but the fact we never interacted tells that they were a secluded kind of people.”

Pauline Sommer, who works within the nearest store to Mr Dzhambazov and Ms Ivanova’s flat, mentioned: “They obviously kept a low profile.”

Many residents mentioned they’d seen a big police presence on the street again in February when the pair had been arrested, however none would have anticipated this to have been the explanation behind it.

Mr Roussev, whose most up-to-date deal with is a guesthouse in Great Yarmouth, claims on his LinkedIn profile that he beforehand served as an adviser to the Bulgarian power minister.

Upon then shifting to the UK, reportedly in 2009, he spent three years as chief technical officer at a monetary companies agency, and lists himself as having owned a agency concerned in AI and superior communications programs for the previous 10 years.

The guesthouse the place he’s mentioned to have lived is among the many motels and B&Bs which largely comprise Princes Road, which sits only a stone’s throw from the Norfolk city’s busy seafront and arcade and only one street again from the excessive avenue.

Orlin Roussev is listed as having lived on the Haydee guesthouse

(Andy Gregory/The Independent)

Those working in neighbouring companies mentioned they’d seen no signal of friends on the property in a minimum of a yr and, though an higher window remained ajar, there was no reply when The Independent rang the doorbell.

No employees on the motels on the identical avenue appeared to recognise Mr Roussev when proven the {photograph} of him printed on Tuesday.

However, a number of folks mentioned they’d witnessed a blue police tent erected exterior the property a number of months in the past, however had been uncertain of the trigger, and noticed no cause to query it additional, being no stranger to police exercise on the road.

“There’s a lot of crazy things around here that don’t get picked up. It’s a very up-and-down town at the minute,” mentioned Billy, a 28-year-old bartender.

Orlin Roussev is listed as having lived on the Haydee guesthouse, a stone’s throw from the seafront in Great Yarmouth

(Andy Gregory/The Independent)

“It’s either nothing happens – or everything happens, from petty theft up to people getting killed … It’s a seaside town, it’s kind of part and parcel unfortunately.” But he added that having a suspected Russian spy registered as dwelling on the road “is a little bit weird, I’ll give you that.”

Another worker at a enterprise on the seafront mentioned: “What are they spying on? It’s Great Yarmouth, for crying out loud.”

They added: “We’ve seen it all, we’ve heard it all. Apart from that.”

All three suspects appeared at London’s Old Bailey on 31 July and had been remanded in custody forward of a trial date, which has not but been set.

Another man and lady arrested in London as a part of the identical Official Secrets Act probe had been launched on bail in February and are as a consequence of return subsequent month.

The arrests come as safety companies have mentioned an rising portion of their work is taken up by “hostile state threats”, and Russia has been a specific focus for the reason that tried assassination of Sergei Skripal in 2018.

Giving his most up-to-date annual risk replace, the pinnacle of MI5, Ken McCallum, mentioned the company was “working intensively to make the UK the hardest possible operating environment for Russian covert action”.

He added: “We’ll need to keep at it: alongside assassination attempts, the Russian covert toolkit includes cyber attacks, disinformation, espionage, democratic interference, and the use of Putin-aligned oligarchs and others as tools for influence.”

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