From Brazil to The Hague? The complex false identity of the Russian spy who wanted to infiltrate the International Criminal Court

As explained by the AIVD, the person in question works for the Russian military intelligence service (GRU), but used a false Brazilian identity to travel from Brazil to the Netherlands.

The intelligence services of the Netherlands (AIVD) prevented a Russian spy, using a false Brazilian identity, from infiltrate as an intern at the International Criminal Court (ICC), whose prosecutor’s office is investigating war crimes by the Russian army in Ukraine.

As explained by the AIVD, the person in question works for the Russian military intelligence service (GRU)but used a false Brazilian identity to travel from Brazil to the Netherlands, where the headquarters of the ICC is located, one of the international courts located in The Hague and whose prosecutor collects evidence from the alleged war crimes in Ukraine.

In support of the press release on Sergey Vladimirovich Cherkasov, alias Viktor Muller Ferreira, the AIVD published the elaborate and complex cover identity of the intelligence officer. This note provides some background on the way this Russian intelligence officer operated.

The document, likely created in mid-2010, refers to an elaboration of Ferreira’s cover story, likely written by Cherkasov himself to memorize the details of his false identity.

The cover identity of an illegal is generally very complex and difficult, if not impossible, for outsiders to verify. The story contains a combination of authentic information and personal (possibly fabricated) impressions.

Russian intelligence services spend years building covert identities. To this end, they collect information, for example, about how other countries record and store personal data, but also illegally obtain or falsify identity documents. Thus, the information in the legend can be traced back to one or more real people, living or dead, as well as to individuals who exist only on paper (in local authority records).

The original document is in Portuguese, probably because this is the language that best suits his fake identity. Personal data and other traceable information belonging to people who are not (directly) involved in Cherkasov’s intelligence activities have been redacted.

Exterior of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands (REUTERS / Piroschka van de Wouw)
Exterior of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands (REUTERS / Piroschka van de Wouw)

“I am Victor Muller Ferreira, I was born on April 4, 1989 in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, in Niteroi,” the letter begins.

About his father, there are details that say that “when he was 15 years old, he discovered that his biological mother had died giving birth. His father’s wife did not want to adopt him, but she agreed to let his father acknowledge paternity for him and find him a guardian, a close friend of his mother’s.” And he adds: “My father arrived in Rio in May 1988, where he met my mother.”

Regarding his mother, he explains that she “died of pneumonia. She was cremated and her ashes buried in the Ferreira cemetery.

He also gives details about the relationship between his parents: “Although his love for my mother had ended, he followed in the footsteps of his father (my grandfather) many years before and officially recognized his son’s parentage. That is why my father returned to Brazil at the beginning of April 1989 to formalize everything. My mother fought a lot with her parents over this unplanned pregnancy, which led to a break in the relationship with his parents. Consequently, my mother was alone in raising me. She earned money playing in various restaurants and bars in Niteroi and Rio ”.

The money was not enough. My mother’s aunt helped us a lot. I remember my aunt as a petite woman with gray hair, kind eyes, and soft hands. She spoke bad Portuguese and she taught me several words in Spanish. From my youth I have vivid memories of the Presidente Costa e Silva bridge. I loved seeing the cars crossing the bridge from Niteroi to Rio. But I didn’t like the fishy stench that hung in the harbor near our house. I think that’s why I hate fishunlike most Brazilians who enjoy everything the sea has to offer.”

She says that when her mother got sick and died, she had to move with her aunt to another place outside of Brazil (detailed information is crossed out): “The house was a three-story pension, most of the occupants were middle class, students from various faculties, retirees and people without a permanent job.. There were some big rooms with high ceilings, double doors, wooden floors. Some shared bathrooms, two kitchens with a gas stove, a laundry and drying room, and an outdoor terrace. The monthly rent was from 100 to 130 dollars. My aunt worked as a seamstress from home. She sewed dresses and shirts that she later sold in the market. The room was always filled with sewing patterns and rolls of fabric in various colors.”

The MyVisaJobs profile for "Victor Muller"the false identity of Sergey Cherkasov
The MyVisaJobs profile for “Victor Muller”, the false identity of Sergey Cherkasov

He wrote that he loved sewing machine, but that his aunt never let him touch her. “When she did it, she said it was the only thing in her life that was still working properly.” In addition to describing his kindergarten, he says that due to financial problems caused by the crisis that hit the entire country in 2001, they moved to a cheaper family hotel: “It was a two-story pension with an attic, and the home of poor people. Compared to the previous accommodations, this one was really terrible. The ceilings leaked and there were water stains. The floorboards creaked so every time someone went to the bathroom or kitchen, everyone knew about it.”

“On the first floor was a family of three who were saving money for a down payment on their mortgage. We liked to visit them to drink mate”, reads the letter.

He also says that he went to a school whose motto was “let’s move forward together.” She also tells about one of the directors of the institution: “The other teachers hated her, she found her a bit stupid. There were voices that with his arrival certain school traditions were abandonedmany respected teachers left.”

In February 2004, she explains, her aunt was admitted to the hospital with heart problems and she had to drop out of school and work to earn money to buy medicine and pay the rent. In 2005 she resumed: “What I remember from my time in high school is that during my studies I had to work in the commercial area of ​​the street, handing out brochures and selling things. I liked working near the sock and underwear store, because I always managed to steal a few socks.”

Details abound in his account: “Much later I got a job as a student in a garage near the neighborhood. The store was small with an area in the middle that barely held three cars. Wheels were stacked along the walls. There was a constant smell of lube and vulcanized rubber. On the door of the supply closet hung a poster of a young Verónica Castro, which would later be replaced by one of Pamela Anderson. The store owner was immensely fat. He stood out for his violent temperament and his reluctance when it came to talking about his past, that is, how he got the money to open a chain of stores in different parts of the city. He usually arrived at the office on the day the salaries were paid. If he arrived before that day, that meant something bad was about to happen.”

“I am Victor Muller Ferreira, I was born on April 4, 1989 in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, in Niteroi”
“I am Victor Muller Ferreira, I was born on April 4, 1989 in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, in Niteroi”

“I don’t like to think about those years, because my classmates used to joke about my appearance and my accent. Although I looked German, they called me “gringo”. That’s why I didn’t have many friends and I spent a lot of time with my aunt who loved to show me old albums with family photos.” She says that her aunt died of heart failure and that she later moved in with a friend.

But despite his “emotional pain and financial problems”, he decided to finish school: “For my specialization exams I chose social sciences and humanities. There were two other options: foreign languages ​​and cultures, and technique. The humanities were very difficult, and because I am ambitious, I wanted to prove to myself and others that I could still pass the most difficult exams even though my social status was very low.. In November 2009 I passed my exams and received my bachelor’s degree.”

”I began to think about working as a political correspondent or journalist, which determined my choice of studies. Since I did not have enough money for higher education, I decided to look for my father. When I wrote to you, I received a surprisingly quick response. My own father had been looking for me for a long time.”

In August 2010, she says that she traveled to Rio de Janeiro to meet him: “My father presented himself as a very friendly and open person, but to my surprise I discovered that I blamed him for the death of my mother and my aunt and all the difficulties and humiliations that I had to suffer in my life. That’s why the conversation was very tense, despite my father’s sincere desire to be a part of my life. Added to this was the fact that my father’s Spanish is bad, and that I had forgotten Portuguese. However, I decided to stay in Brazil to learn the language and restore my citizenship. It was mentally difficult to live with my father, so I moved to Brasília, thus killing two birds with one stone: first, the capital is the best place to solve my problems with citizenship, all the important institutions are there, and second, it was a good excuse not to have to see my father.”

Finally, he says that in September 2010 he moved to Brasilia. “Parallel to the matter of restoring my citizenship, I took private Portuguese classes. During my spare time I went to see the cultural sights of the city. I keep in touch with my father through the Internet.”

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From Brazil to The Hague? The complex false identity of the Russian spy who wanted to infiltrate the International Criminal Court