Who Is Maria Adela Kuhfeldt Rivera? Russian Spy Olga Kolobova Posed as Jewelry Designer Socialite to Honeytrap NATO Staff in Italy

Kolobova's duty in Naples ended in 2018, and it is suspected that she has not left Russia since returning.

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The identity of a female Russian spy who posed as a Latin American jewelry maker and partied with NATO commanders based in Naples, Italy for more than a decade has been identified, according to a new investigative report. Olga Kolobova, a spy for Putin's GRU military intelligence agency, started spying in 2006 under the name "Maria Adela Kuhfeldt Rivera."

Maria Adela told people in Italy that she was the child of a German father and Peruvian mother, born in the city of Callao, Peru. According to research conducted by Bellingcat in collaboration with other media publications, including La Repubblica in Italy and Der Spiegel in Germany, she was indeed a career GRU officer from Russia.

Putin's Femme Fatale

Olga Kolobova
Olga Kolobova is a season GRU spy Twitter

Maria Adela then spent years traveling across Europe, settling in Malta and Rome in 2010 where she became friends with Marcelle D'Argy Smith, a former Cosmopolitan magazine editor, before taking off for Paris and filing a patent application to launch a jewelry business.

She married a Russian-Ecuadorian man after moving back to Italy in 2012, but their romance ended soon. A year later, the man died under mysterious conditions, giving 'Maria' the freedom to once more roam about Italy before landing in Naples, the location of NATO's Allied Joint Force Command.

Olga Kolobova
Olga Kolobova took the name of Maria Adela Kuhfeldt Rivera for spying in Italy Twitter

Her operation started there. There, Peruvian-born "Maria" made a name for herself as a custom jeweler and nightclub owner. Her lively personality and fun-loving nature allowed her to develop relationships with numerous NATO personnel, including colonels of high rank.

According to her acquaintances in Italy, she was able to make friends with numerous members of the NATO staff and other affiliates by accepting the position of secretary at the Naples chapter of the International Lions Club.

The investigators were told by one NATO employee that he even had a brief romantic relationship with "Maria Adela Rivera."

Olga Kolobova
Olga Kolobova with her friends while on her mission in Naples, Italy Twitter

However, this is just the identity the world knew of the season GRU spy. In reality, she never was Maria Adela.

From Russia to Italy

Kolobova, who is currently believed to be in her mid-40s, was a member of Russia's famed "illegals" program, a network of spies who go through years of rigorous training to get them ready for lengthy postings overseas.

Olga Kolobova
Olga Kolobova posed as Is Maria Adela Kuhfeldt Rivera in Italy and even went on to become the secretary at the Naples chapter of the International Lions Club Twitter

Once ready, illegal immigrants are placed in a nation and given expertly designed false identities, where they spend years or even decades leading double lives. While secretly pursuing a much more sinister mission on behalf of the Kremlin, the deep cover operatives are required to build their careers, form connections, and in some cases, even start families and raise children.

Maria Adela did all that and did it quite successfully as she was never caught. Kolobova is the daughter of a Russian military official who used to sell counterfeit jewelry made in China to entice European and American security professionals to unintentionally leak classified information to her Kremlin superiors.

Olga Kolobova
Olga Kolobova was never caught Twitter

Kabalova's journey from Russia to Naples began in Peru in 2005 when she was turned down for a passport there despite presenting a baptismal certificate from a church that had been established ten years earlier, in 1978.

A year later, a lady using the same cover identity—complete with the same name and birthdate—was issued a Russian passport and began working at Moscow State University to establish a trackable history that was probably never verified by her new friends in Italy.

Investigators found that a Russian intelligence operative engaged in the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and a man suspected of poisoning Bulgarian armaments producer Emilian Gebrev both shared the same set of fake passport numbers.

Olga Kolobova
Olga Kolobova returned to Moscow in 2018 Twitter

It is exceedingly challenging to catch spies like Maria Adela because of their complex cover stories, extensive training, and lengthy missions, they are. As a result, Kolobova successfully pretended to be Maria for more than a decade until returning to Moscow in 2018. She was probably called back after her mission in Italy was over.

The final Facebook post made by "Maria" a few months after she left Italy stated that she had to "reveal the truth" that she had cancer and had undergone chemotherapy. This was probably another ploy to allow her to leave her friendship groups without raising any red flags.

Maria Adela Kuhfeldt Rivera
Maria Adela Kuhfeldt Rivera Twitter

However, at least one military leader thought the intriguing jewelry maker's account was dubious. Col. Sheila Bryant, who was then the inspector general of the American Naval Forces in Europe and Africa, was questioned by Bellingcat.

She says she urged others to "limit access" to highly confidential military information on a need-to-know basis around the woman. Bryant additionally disclosed to Bellingcat that Maria Adela made friends with other NATO members from Germany, Italy, and Belgium. She went to several NATO galas, such as the annual ball and a few expensive fundraising dinners that cost several thousand dollars per plate.

Maria Adela Kuhfeldt Rivera
Maria Adela Kuhfeldt Rivera Twitter

Kolobova's duty in Naples ended in 2018, and it is suspected that she has not left Russia since returning. Bellingcat claimed to have purchased two properties in Moscow, one in 2013 while 'Maria' was traveling there and the other in 2020.

Belling Cat also claimed that order records obtained from a Russian food delivery service showed the GRU agent had frequently placed food orders for delivery to the Russian Pension Fund's offices.

Although Kolobova's current whereabouts are unknown, it seems unlikely that she has given up playing the spy game.