Alleged Russian spy ring deny conspiracy charge

Five Bulgarians have denied plotting to spy in the UK on behalf of Russia over two-and-a-half years.

Orlin Roussev, 46, Bizer Dzhambazov, 42, Katrin Ivanova, 32, Ivan Stoyanov, 32, and Vanya Gaberova, 29, were charged last year with conspiring to gather information that would be useful to an enemy between August 2020 and February 2023.

On Friday, they denied the spying charge against them when they appeared at the Old Bailey before Mr Justice Jeremy Baker.

Roussev, Dzhambazov and Ivanova denied a second charge of possession of false identity documents with improper intention under section 4 of the Identity Documents Act 2010.

It is alleged that on February 8 last year they had a total of 18 fake identity documents – passports, identity cards and a driving licence – for Britain, France, Italy, Czech Republic, Croatia, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Greece.

The male defendants appeared in court by video link from Belmarsh, Manchester, and Frankland prisons with the two women at Bronzefield jail.

The alleged spy ring members all had addresses in the UK with Roussev in Great Yarmouth, Dzhambazov and Ivanova in Harrow, north-west London, Stoyanov in Greenford, west London, and Gaberova in Euston, north London.

They are due to face a trial at the Old Bailey in October.

The defendants appeared alongside a sixth alleged plotter, Tihomir Ivanov Ivanchev, 38, who was arrested in February.

It is alleged that he too conspired to collect information that could be harmful to the “safety and interest of the state” on behalf of Russia.

Ivanchev, of Acton, west London, who appeared alone in the Old Bailey dock, was not asked to enter a plea to the conspiracy charge.

Prosecutor Alison Morgan KC applied for Ivanchev’s case to be joined with that of the other five alleged spies.

Mr Justice Jeremy Baker confirmed the trial date before Mr Justice Hilliard.

The senior judge set a two-day preparatory hearing for May 16 and 17 and remanded the defendants into custody.

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