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Insider: Family of illegal immigrants helped Russian intelligence organize explosions, poisonings in Europe

Russian illegal immigrants Nikolai and Elena Shaposhnikov allegedly coordinated explosions and poisonings in Europe for Russia’s military intelligence GRU while living under refugee cover in Czechia, per an investigation by The Insider.
Nikolai and Elena Shaposhnikov,
Nikolai and Elena Shaposhnikov, who reportedly coordinated a series of explosions and poisonings in Europe organized by Russia’s military intelligence GRU. Credit: Open sources
Insider: Family of illegal immigrants helped Russian intelligence organize explosions, poisonings in Europe

The Russian investigative outlet The Insider reports that a family of Russian illegal immigrants in the Czech Republic coordinated a series of explosions and poisonings in Europe organized by Russia’s military intelligence GRU.

According to the investigation, Nikolai and Elena Shaposhnikov lived in Czechia under the guise of political emigrants. They received asylum in the early 1990s, changing several refugee camps. The report states that the family applied for Czech citizenship. However, it notes that Shaposhnikov concealed his service in Afghanistan, while Shaposhnikova claimed to have surrendered her Ukrainian passport upon gaining refugee status, although she continued using it for trips to Russia and Ukraine.

The investigation alleges that in the early 2000s, Shaposhnikov shared his knowledge of Soviet weapons with Petr Bernatik, an engineer by education who served as a secret informant for the counterintelligence unit that maintained close ties with the Soviet armed forces. Bernatik’s major arms trading business was the Imex group, a significant portion of whose clients were in regions still using Soviet-era weapons and in need of respective ammunition. Shaposhnikov worked there as a business development manager.

“Elena Shaposhnikova officially ran her own business. But, as the investigation claims, she was involved in Imex’s work and coordinated her husband’s actions directly with Major General Andrei Averyanov, head of the GRU’s Unit 29155,” the report says.

Despite an income of around $650 per month, she purchased real estate in Czechia and a villa in Greece, which The Insider alleges was used by the GRU as a safe house. According to the outlet, the Shaposhnikovs gathered information for intelligence operatives and assisted in organizing explosions at ammunition depots in Czechia and Bulgaria. The investigators said the couple was involved in the poisoning of Bulgarian arms dealer Emilian Gebrev.

“The Shaposhnikovs have recently attracted the interest of Czech investigators,” the report said.

After that, Nikolai Shaposhnikov began abusing alcohol, neglecting his medication, and died of a heart attack in February 2024. Elena Shaposhnikova resides in Greece and claims she is being persecuted ‘because of her Russian roots.’

“Prague has not yet filed an extradition request,” the report states.

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