Five Bulgarians have been charged with conspiracy to conduct espionage, the Crown Prosecution Service has said.
The five — Orlin Roussev, 45, Bizer Dzhambazov, 41, Katrin Ivanova, 31, Ivan Stoyanov, 31, and Vanya Gaberova, 29 — are accused of “conspiring to collect information intended to be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy”.
Four of the alleged spies lived in London while a fifth, Roussev, lived in the eastern England seaside town of Great Yarmouth.
The defendants are alleged to have worked in an operational spy cell for the Russian security services, which involved conducting surveillance on targets.
They have been accused of working on active operations in the UK and Europe, and collecting and passing information to the Russian state.
All five were arrested early this year by counterterrorism detectives on suspicion of an offence under the Official Secrets Act.
Roussev, Dzhambazov, and Ivanova were charged in February with having false identity documents.
During a court appearance in July, prosecutors said they had 34 ID documents, some of which were suspected to be false, from the UK, Bulgaria, France, Italy, Spain, Croatia, Slovenia, Greece and the Czech Republic.
The five suspects are due to appear at London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court on September 26.
Nick Price, head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)’s Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division, said: “The CPS has authorised a charge of conspiracy to conduct espionage against three men and two women suspected of spying for Russia.
“Orlin Roussev, 45, Bizer Dzhambazov, 41, Katrin Ivanova, 31, Ivan Stoyanov, 31, and Vanya Gaberova, 29, will be charged with conspiring to collect information intended to be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy for a purpose prejudicial to the safety and interest of the state between August 30, 2020 and February 8, 2023.
“Roussev, Dzhambazov and Ivanova were previously charged on February 11, 2023 with possession of false identity documents with improper intention under section 4 of the Identity Documents Act 2010.”
Roussev, 45, is alleged to have run operations from the UK and acted as the link to those who received the intelligence.
He has a history of business dealings in Russia, having moved to the UK in 2009. He then spent three years working in a technical role in financial services.
His LinkedIn profile states he later owned a business involved in signals intelligence.
In Harrow, former neighbours described Dzhambazov and Ivanova as a couple. Dzhambazov is described as a driver for hospitals and Ivanova describes herself on her LinkedIn profile as a laboratory assistant for a private health business.