The Dutch Secret Service (AIVD) said it had discovered a Russian military spy who tried to infiltrate the International Criminal Court, the Hague tribunal that deals with international crimes and which has conducted several investigations into crimes since April. The person identified is 36-year-old Sergei Vladimirovich Cherkasov, but for the past 10 years has lived under the false identity of a 33-year-old Brazilian man, Victor Muller-Ferreira. Through his investigation, Dutch intelligence concluded that he works for the GRU, the Russian military intelligence.
In April, Cherkasov applied for an intern position at the International Criminal Court, but as soon as he arrived in The Hague, he was stopped by the Dutch intelligence and security services and sent back to Brazil, where he was. The Brazilian Federal Police said Cherkasov is currently being held and under investigation for allegedly using false documents.
The head of the Dutch intelligence agency, Eric Ackerbom, said this type of espionage was categorized as a high-level threat. In fact, Cherkasov was chosen as an intern and if he had not been intercepted in time he would have had easy access to the offices and the organization’s internal email service, which he could have tampered with or damaged the essential documents of the work from the court.
Russia claimed that it was not involved in the case in any way, and responded to Cherkasov’s expulsion by expelling about 15 Dutch diplomats who were in Russia.
Cherkasov worked for many years to build a false identity and eliminate all possible ties with Russia or the GRU. He had arrived in Brazil in 2010 pretending to be Victor Muller Ferreira and pretending to have lost both parents: over the years he lived in the United States and Ireland where he pursued his studies in political science. Reuters The Netherlands has reportedly accused more than 20 people of spying for Russia in recent years.
The Dutch intelligence service explained that spies like Cherkasov are known to be “illegitimate” and usually undergo very extensive training with fake identities extremely difficult to detect. The AIVD has published on its website the letter of submission that Cherkasov sent to the international court, translated into several languages, to give “a glimpse into the workings of a Russian intelligence officer”. He explained that although the main objective of the military intelligence unit is to collect military information, it is not uncommon for it to also deal with information of a more political and technological nature or with operations aimed at building influence relationships.