3-man Russian spy ring operated in New York for years, prosecutors say

Manhattan U.S. Atty. Preet Bharara announced the arrest of a man charged with acting as a Russian spy in New York City on Monday. Evgeny Buryakov is accused of operating as a Russian spy for more than two years.
(European Press Photo Agency)

The FBI announced Monday that it has arrested a Russian spy in New York City suspected of taking part in an intelligence-gathering ring.

The arrest of Evgeny Buryakov in the Bronx comes after a years-long investigation into his activities as a part of Russia’s foreign intelligence agency, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in New York. The FBI announced charges against Buryakov, as well as two accused co-conspirators, Igor Sporyshev and Victor Podobnyy.

Sporyshev, 40, and Podobnyy, 27, are no longer in the U.S and haven’t been arrested. Buryakov appeared in court later in the day and was ordered held without bail, the Associated Press reported.

“These charges demonstrate our firm commitment to combating attempts by covert agents to illegally gather intelligence and recruit spies within the United States,” Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a statement.


Buryakov, Sporyshev and Podobnyy were all accused of acting as agents on behalf of the Russian Federation, and the complaint, filed last week, alleges the three had been meeting and plotting their work as government agents for at least two years.

In the complaint, federal investigators said much of Buryakov’s intelligence-gathering was focused on financial institutions.

The spy ring was gathering intelligence on potential U.S. sanctions against Russian banks, as well as the nation’s efforts to develop alternative energy resources, among other things, according to the complaint.

The FBI launched its investigation into all three men some time after taking down another group of alleged covert government agents in 2010, according to the complaint.

Two of the three also had public links to Russia, according to the complaint. Sporyshev was a trade representative for the Russian government in the city and Podobnyy was working in a government position as a permanent attaché to the Russian Federation at the United Nations, according to the complaint. Buryakov was working as a civilian employee of a Russian bank in Manhattan.

While their government positions allowed Sporyshev and Podobnyy to be exempt from registering as official foreign agents with the U.S. government, they still violated federal law by attempting to recruit intelligence sources within New York City and by relaying information and orders between Buryakov and his handlers within the Russian government, according to the complaint.

Buryakov passed information, which the group often referred to as a non-specific item like an “umbrella” or “hat,” to Sporyshev during quick face-to-face meetings, the complaint said. Buryakov could not enter any of the Russian Federation’s government offices in New York because of his covert status, according to the complaint, so he relied on Sporyshev and Podobnyy to relay intelligence to Moscow.