An internationally-recognised beautician specialising in nails and ‘Russian mega-volume’ lashes now accused of being a spy for Moscow in Britain claimed £20,000 in state-funded grants during the pandemic, it was revealed today. Bulgarian-national Vanya Gaberova (pictured), 29, ran a west London beauty salon called Pretty Woman and lived with her boyfriend, an unnamed decorator, in a nearby flat.
According to its annual accounts she was handed a £10,000 coronavirus grant and later a £10,000 bounce-back loan from the British government after multiple lockdowns. Pretty Woman opened in 2019 and has glowing reviews on Google including claims it is one of the best in London. One customer wrote earlier this year: ‘Everyone needs Vanya in their life (she is stunning too) plus she is very very reasonable’, another said: ‘Vanya is the loveliest and most meticulous professional I [have] met’. She also has top marks on Treatwell, for her manicures and Russian-style eyelash extensions, costing £130 per treatment.
Gaberova has taken part in several eyebrow competitions in London and Bulgaria as well as an online-only contest in Russia. Neighbours described Vanya as a warm but ‘timid’ and ‘discreet’ woman while a restaurateur near her beauty bar in Acton expressed his shock, declaring: ‘If she is a spy, she was a good one’, adding: ‘She had a partner, a big guy and I was thinking what was he doing with that pretty girl’. Ms Gaberova, Orlin Roussev, 45, Bizer Dzhambazov, 41, Katrin Ivanova, 31 and Ivan Stoyanov, 31, will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on September 26.
The suspected spies are accused of working on active operations in the UK and Europe and passing gathered intel to Russia. They are also allegedly involved conducting surveillance on targets. Gaberova, 29, calls herself as a ‘lashes extensions specialist’ and is an ‘accredited eyelash educator’ who has won many prizes in the UK and Bulgaria — but also in Russia. She is one of five Bulgarian nationals set to 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 30 August 2020 and 8 February 2023.
Tiaago Nogueria runs a Portuguese restaurant, Villamoura, across the road from Pretty Woman. The business was closed yesterday – and the number disconnected – but a member staff answered the door but said: ‘I’ve been told not to talk’. Mr Nogueria told The Times: ‘She was renting that place and would leave her staff to do other stuff. She had a partner, a big guy and I was thinking what was he doing with that pretty girl. She was very timid, discreet. I wouldn’t have suspected her of being a spy’.
Her company is named VG PRETTY WOMAN LTD and she is said to have studied at the University of National and World Economy in Bulgaria. Her social media profile links her to ‘travelling, cooking, shopping, walking, and reading’. 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.’ Roussev, Dzhambazov, and Ivanova were previously charged on February 11, 2023, with possession of false identity documents.
The five defendants are alleged to have worked in an operational spy cell for the Russian security services, the BBC reports. The five Bulgarians were arrested in February under the British Official Secrets Act following raids on properties in London and Great Yarmouth in Norfolk. MI5 allegedly passed the intelligence on to the Met Police. Roussev, who has a history of business dealings in Russia, is alleged to have run things out of a guesthouse in Norfolk acting as a middle man to those who gathered intelligence. Neighbours said a tent was erected by police outside the three-star Haydee Hotel in Great Yarmouth when he was detained. Investigators allegedly found equipment to produce false documents in his room.
Last month it emerged that Roussev and Dzhambazov and Ivanova – believed to be a couple who were living at the same address – were facing charges which allege they were in possession of 34 identity documents, some of which were suspected to be false. Officers reportedly found allegedly fake passports and official identity documents for the UK, Bulgaria, France, Italy, Spain, Croatia, Slovenia, Greece, and the Czech Republic. The trio were also accused of posing as journalists from American television companies after Scotland Yard found forged press cards and branded clothing from the Discovery and National Geographic channels, The Times reported. They appeared at the Old Bailey in July to face those charges.
Roussev, Dzhambazov and Ivanova are understood to have lived in the UK for several years, working different jobs and living in a range of suburban houses. The Bulgarians also had links to a flat in north-west London located a mile away from the RAF Northolt military base, according to The Telegraph. The base is frequently used by ministers, foreign heads of state and members of the royal family. Roussev moved to the UK in 2009 and spent three years in financial services, working in a technical job, the BBC reports. According to social media profiles, Dzhambazov worked as a hospital driver while Ivanova described herself as a laboratory assistant for a private healthcare business. The pair also worked for electoral commissions in the capital that assisted Bulgarians living abroad with voting back in their homeland.
Neighbours said they were popular figures locally, having handed out cakes and pies to people living nearby. But eyebrows were raised when Dzhambazov installed a satellite dish on the side of his property, which appeared to be pointing in the wrong direction, compared to every other one in the street. He then tried to put up an even bigger antenna on the exterior wall, until those living next door complained that it was going to block the light to their home, neighbours claimed. Dzhambazov is also said to have told people nearby that he worked for Interpol. One neighbour, James, told the Telegraph: ‘I do remember that they had their [satellite dish] pointed in a different direction to all the other ones.’
After moving to the UK around 10 years ago, they ran a community organisation for Bulgarians, including teaching them the ‘culture and norms of British society’. Britain has been sharpening its focus on external security threats and in July it passed a new national security law, aiming to deter espionage and foreign interference with updated tools and criminal provisions. The government labelled Russia ‘the most acute threat’ to its security when the law was passed. Police have charged three Russians, who they say are GRU military intelligence officers, with the 2018 attempt to murder former double agent Sergei Skripal with the military-grade nerve agent Novichok. Two were charged in 2018 and the third in 2021.
Last year, Britain’s domestic spy chief said more than 400 suspected Russian spies had been expelled from Europe. Britain has been one of the strongest supporters of Ukraine since the Russian invasion last year and has imposed a range of sanctions on Russian officials and oligarchs. Roussev is from Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, Dzhambazov is from Harrow, northwest London, Ivanova is from Harrow, northwest London, Stoyanov is from Greenford, west London, and Gaberova is from Churchway, northwest London. Read the full story: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12548117/beautician-Russia-spy-Covid.html?ito=msngallery
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Post source: The List