No one would have guessed that this flamboyant jeweler from Naples, who rubbed shoulders with NATO executives, was actually a Russian spy. The investigation was carried out by Bellinggate, an investigative group, in collaboration with newspapers Der Spiegeli, Republic of La And The InsiderIn Italy it was possible to unmask an agent who worked for the Russian military intelligence GRU (General Intelligence Directorate) for ten years.
She called herself Maria Adela Kuhfeld Rivera and said she was born on September 1, 1978 in Callo, Peru to a German father and a Peruvian mother. In 2013, she moved to Naples and opened a luxury jewelry store called “Serene” and quickly rose through Neapolitan society until she rubbed shoulders with NATO circles.
A mysterious socialite
In 1980, her mother took her to the Soviet Union to attend the Moscow Olympics, but abandoned her daughter in the country following an emergency phone call. She won’t come back. Little Maria Adela was then entrusted to a Muscovite family, with whom her mother befriended. The girl grew up in this family that had a difficult relationship with her as she was said to have abused her as a child. Tell people you know that this is why she came to settle in Western Europe.
How did she end up in Italy? His past is unclear. According to his social networks, he was first in Malta and then in Rome between 2009 and 2011. According to his friends, he was studying gemology (the science of precious stones). Travel documents in his name indicate that he has been to Paris since October 2011. He would have lived there for a while and earned a degree in business administration. It was there that she created her jewelry brand “Serene” before flying to Naples.
And according to those around her, in July 2012 the girl married an Italian. The ceremony took place in Rome. In fact, her husband was a Russian, holding an Italian passport. The man died a year after the wedding during a trip to Moscow. He was only 30, and according to his death certificate, he died of “double pneumonia and lupus” (an autoimmune disease, editor’s note). Widowed Maria Adela stays in Italy and buys a house in an upscale residential area of Naples in 2015.
It was there that she began an active social life and climbed the ladder. He opens a luxury jewelry store, which he transforms into a trendy club frequented by the local jet set. In fact, his jewelry store was selling cheap trinkets he stockpiled in China, a Bellingcat investigation revealed.
It also houses the headquarters of the board of directors of the local branch of the international philanthropic organization the Lions Club, which also includes members of the NATO military command, JFC Naples. She befriends many of them and is said to have had an affair with an officer. According to people close to Maria Adela, she had a “tumultuous love life”.
According to US Colonel Shelia Bryant (whom she befriended) quoted in the investigation, the woman had connections with Belgian, Italian and German NATO personnel and officials. Although the woman has been in contact with several senior NATO and US Navy officials, she is not known to have physically visited a NATO base, according to Bellingate. It is certain that he attended many events of the organization and the US Navy, such as balls and charity galas.
The woman suddenly disappears from Neapolitan social life in 2018. Without informing anyone, he goes to Moscow with his cat. Two months later, a cryptic Facebook post in Italian revealed that he had been treated for cancer.
The cover is compromised
This is just a cover. According to the Bellingcat survey, Maria Adela was actually named Olga Kolobova and was born in 1982. Before 2018, the woman had no address, phone number or digital fingerprint in Russia.
Bellingcat boss and lead investigator Christo Grozev said he first found traces of GRU espionage by consulting a database of border crossings recorded by Belarusian border guards and provided by a group of hackers against the regime of Alexander Lukashenko. A closer look at “Rivera” revealed that he was traveling with several Russian passports whose serial numbers were on the panel used by other known GRU agents. Notably by an officer accused of poisoning Bulgarian arms dealer Emilion Gebrev with Novichok and another GRU officer who allegedly participated in the attack. Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury in 2018.
A day before he left Naples, Bellingate and The Insider published an article about the agents responsible for poisoning Sergei Skripal and his daughter. Fearing that other agents with similar passport numbers would be compromised, the GRU apparently wanted to remove Maria Adela from her land.
After 2018, he was very active in Russia. In 2019, he began appearing on Russian social media and now promotes war in Ukraine. He will be the owner of two apartments in the high-end areas of Moscow.
The investigation underscored the uniqueness of the spy, who held a Russian passport. Usually spies hide their ties to Russia. Nevertheless, the GRU still renewed the identity of “Kuhfeld Rivera” with a Russian passport because he may have already made valuable contacts under this identity and did not want to lose them.
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