The recently released findings of a years-long Czech investigation revealed that a Russian couple spying undercover helped the Kremlin with sabotage activities in the European Union.

Former military officer Nikolay Shaposhnikov and his wife Elena helped the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence, organize sabotage activities dating as far back as 2014 in the EU, including explosions at ammunition depots in the Czech Republic and Bulgaria, and the poisoning of Bulgarian arms factory owner Emilian Gebrev, The Insider reported on Monday, April 29, adding additional investigative findings to the Czech report.

The Shaposhnikovs, who settled in the Czech Republic under the guise of political emigrants, collected information on military supplies for Russian intelligence. In addition, the couple’s hotel, Villa Elena, in northern Greece, has served as a hideout for members of the highly secretive GRU Unit 29155 for the past 15 years.


The investigation indicates that the commander of this military unit, Gen. Andrei Averyanov, with whom Elena Shaposhnikova maintained regular email communication, often flew undercover to Thessaloniki, Greece.

Czech counterterrorism investigators found that Elena Shaposhnikova had been sending Gen. Averyanov important information via email about upcoming arms deals that her husband had discovered.

In cases where the GRU decided that the deliveries were detrimental to Russia’s military interests, Unit 29155 used this information to conduct sabotage operations against the companies involved.

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On April 25, 2014, GRU officer Alexei Kapinos arrived in Thessaloniki on a diplomatic passport. Shaposhnikov described him to the Czech investigator as a “family friend.” The day before, three members of GRU Unit 29155 arrived in Bulgaria, where local businessman Emilian Gebrev was to be poisoned.

At the time of the poisoning, Gebrev was considered a supplier of ammunition to the Ukrainian army.


The Insider writes that Olena Shaposhnikova “secretly” received a Russian passport from the range of numbers reserved for members of Unit 29155 in order to use this passport to travel to Russia. Specifically, the woman used Russian documents twice – in December 2015 and in December 2017. The Insider claims that during the first trip she was awarded the title of Hero of Russia. There is no official confirmation of this information.

The couple refused to come to the Czech Republic for questioning, so they were interviewed by representatives of the Greek and Bulgarian authorities. The Russian agents claimed that all their ties with GRU members were “personal” and that they did not know that “their friends” were Russian intelligence officers, adding that they did not knowingly assist the GRU in any of the sabotage operations.

“After the Czech authorities became interested in the Shaposhnikov family, Nikolay began to abuse alcohol and neglect his medication while awaiting arrest. In February of this year, he died suddenly,” the investigator said.

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