María Adela Kuhfeldt Rivera was sophisticated and attentive. Daughter of a German father and a Peruvian mother, she was one of those people who makes everyone feel good in a cocktail. She had traveled the world showing off his exquisite collection of jewelry. That natural charm opened the doors of high society in Naples (Italy), where he began to forge relationships with members of the NATO base and United States military personnel. He was capable of creating those intimate atmospheres in which even the most cautious begin to loosen their tongues. The problem is that they did not know who they were facing. Rivera was actually a top-level Russian spy who had been active for years without being discovered.

Nobody knows the true identity of Rivera, who, about to have his secret made public, returned by plane to Moscow. There is no record that he has left the country since then. the digital medium bellingcat It has been the one that has revealed the story of this 30-year-old woman who had a guaranteed cover in the most refined Italian dinners. Investigative journalists tracked down the passport numbers of the two undercover agents who poisoned Sergei Skripal, a former Russian spy who had betrayed them, in England. His had a consecutive numbering to theirs. It was proof that Rivera works for the GRU, Russia’s military agency, which has covert agents all over the world. They are blamed for everything from the hacking of Hillary Clinton’s emails to the assassination attempt on Skripal.

Their agents are reputed to be the best. Russia has a division specialized in creating spies that look like foreigners, without any characteristics that lead them to think that they are actually Russians. Rivera fits this profile perfectly. He lived in Rome, Malta and Paris, until he came to Naples. There he opened a boutique called Serein. He quickly made a place for himself in Neapolitan social life. He presided over the local branch of the Lions Club, which opened to him the halls of the most distinguished people in the city. In those environments he related to NATO personnel. What’s more, one of these bureaucrats had a romantic relationship with her.

After the revelation of bellingcatLittle else was known about Rivera. He flew the next day to Moscow. From there the trail of him is lost. He wrote a Facebook status two months later announcing that he had undergone chemotherapy and his hair was just growing back. It was the explanation for his long silence for the hundreds of friends he had on the social network. Her suspicion is that her bosses knew that with her identity exposed it was a matter of hours before she was arrested. The charade had collapsed.

Around her, she had built the perfect story that explained a cosmopolitan woman, raised in Russia, with roots in Peru. A citizen of the world. The kind of people everyone knows on the surface, but no one knows intimately. She claimed to have been born in Callao, a region adjacent to Lima with the country’s main port. As a child she accompanied her mother to Moscow to attend the 1980 Olympic Games. There, she explains bellingcat, the mother received an urgent message to return to Peru and left her daughter in the care of a Soviet family with whom she had established a friendship. She never came back. The foster parents she was raised with did not provide her with an easy existence and she claimed that the man had abused her. That explained that she did not want to return to Russia and she wanted to have a westernized life.

The Kremlin tried to make his identity official. In 2005 she processed the papers in the civil registry of Lima to request a new Peruvian citizenship. His lawyers said that she had a birth certificate registered in Callao on September 1, 1978. Peruvian officials discovered that it was a hoax and left the case in the hands of the Prosecutor’s Office. Russia, however, went ahead with her plans and issued her a Russian passport. The story of the girl being abandoned by the gymnast mother seemed believable, at least for a decade. Until the truth was revealed. Rivera, or whatever her name is, will appear again in a few years, in another place, under another identity, with another appearance, carrying a different past. We never know who we have in front of us.

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