Swallowed off the face of the earth: Maria Adela – A Russian Mata Hari in Naples?

For five years, the beautiful Maria Adela has been spying on NATO and US officers under a hidden name. Beguiles and charms them and penetrates deeper and deeper into their circles. It is uncertain what information it actually transmits. Just like her whereabouts.

Maria Adela Kuhfeldt Rivera Mid-30s, slim, long, dark hair, open-minded and flirtatious. From 2013 to 2018 she lives in Naples, mainly frequents the clubs at the NATO and US military bases stationed there and turns the heads of many a high-ranking officer. What the gentlemen don’t know: the beautiful Maria Adela is an agent of the Russian military intelligence service GRU and her real name is Olga Kolobova. This was the result of ten months of research by the investigative platform “Bellingcat”, “The Insider”, “Spiegel” and the Italian daily newspaper “La Repubblica”.

The Italian daily writes that Olga or Maria Adela is said to have been “the protagonist of Russia’s most sensational espionage operation in Italy”. But he also adds: “We have not been able to trace back what information she was able to obtain and whether she was able to plant viruses in her friends’ computers and mobile phones.”

The mysterious death of her husband

The Italian media compare Adela to the legendary Mata Hari.

(Foto: imago images/Artepics)

The story captivates the Italians. On the one hand, because Maria Adela, with all her secrets and seduction strategies, is reminiscent of a modern Mata Hari. On the other hand, because a new parliament will be elected in Italy on September 25 and there are always news and rumors that indicate Moscow’s efforts to influence the election campaign. A few days ago, another piece of the puzzle in this story came to light. It is about the mysterious death of her husband Danilo Alfredo Muñoz Pogoreltsev, 30 years old, mother Russian, father Italo-Ecuadorian. In July 2012, Maria Adela and Danilo Alfredo married near Rome. Shortly thereafter, the man falls ill and dies exactly one year after the wedding. It is said that his family only found out about this marriage after Maria Adela’s true identity was revealed and now want to know if Danilo’s death could have anything to do with her profession.

The fairy tale with the raven mother

Maria Adela told her friends in Naples that she was born on September 1, 1978 in the Peruvian city of Callao. Her father was German, her mother Peruvian. When she was less than two years old, her mother took her to Moscow to the Olympic Games. However, the mother suddenly had to return to Peru and left her daughter in the care of friends in Moscow. That should only be temporary, but the mother never showed up again.

However, that was fictitious. Research revealed that in 2005, a Lima lawyer filed an application for citizenship for Maria Adela with local authorities. As documentation, he attached a birth certificate and a baptismal certificate. According to her baptismal certificate, she was baptized in Callao, in the Cristo Liberador church. But the church did not exist at that time, it was only built nine years later. The Peruvian authorities rejected the request. The Russians were not deterred by this, however, and in 2006 they issued Maria Adela a passport with precisely these data. She was identified as a “leading specialist” at a Moscow university.

Maria Adela initially commutes between France, Italy and Malta. On the island in 2010 she met the former editor-in-chief of the British women’s magazine “Cosmopolitan”, Marcelle D’Argy Smith. She tells D’Argy Smith that she is taking a course on gemstones in Paris, but often comes to Malta because her boyfriend lives there.

From 2013 she was in Italy. First in Ostia, near Rome, where she lives under rather modest circumstances and opens a company that processes precious stones. Two years later she moves to Naples and takes up residence in the posh Posillipo district. Here she opened a very exclusive concept store in 2016.

The mole strategy

Her business doesn’t make much money, but she still organizes parties and vernissages time and again. Her friends and acquaintances, including Colonel Sheila Bryant, who was then inspector general for the US military forces in Europe and Africa, keep asking themselves: “Where does she get all that money from?” The story with the mother doesn’t seem really believable either. For example, Sheila Bryant wonders, “Why would a mother abandon her child in the Soviet Union?”

Meanwhile, Maria Adela, like a mole, works her way deeper and deeper into the circles of the leaders of the Atlantic Alliance. She not only becomes a member, but also secretary of the exclusive Lions Club “Napoli Monte Nuovo”, which was once founded by the officers of the NATO base Lago Patria. The members belong almost exclusively to the bases of NATO and the VI. Fleet of the US Navy, which are a particularly popular target for the Russians. The Lyons Club becomes her spider web in which friends and lovers get tangled.

On September 15, 2018, Maria Adela disappeared, swallowed up by the face of the earth. The friends try to contact her via social media, ask their last friend – from the NATO quarters – and bombard him with emails. But in vain.

“I want you to know that I miss you forever”

It was not until November 19th that she received a sign of life from Moscow. In a message written in Italian and English, she makes it clear that she has cancer: “The truth has to come out. The hair starts to grow again after the chemo, it’s still very short, but at least.” She also included a picture of her with short blonde hair. After that she gives only one sign of life: In December 2018, Adela wrote the former editor-in-chief of “Cosmopolitan” a text message: “There is so much that I am not allowed to say and explain (and probably never will be allowed). But you should know, that I miss you forever.”

But what had prompted Maria Adela to leave so hasty for Moscow? It was her passport. It had the same serial number that the Russian military service had used for other agents’ passports. Agents who, as the research of “Bellingcat” and “The Insider” revealed at the time, were involved in the poisoning attacks against the Bulgarian arms manufacturer Emilian Gebrev and the Russian spy Sergei Skripal. The news was published on September 14, the day after Maria Adela flew to Moscow.

Their true identity only became apparent after further lengthy and laborious research and photo comparisons. From this it was inferred that Maria Adela Kuhfeldt Rivera’s real name was Olga Kolobova, she was born in 1982 and that her father was a colonel who had received numerous awards for his patriotic services in Angola, Iraq and Syria. However, Maria Adela herself provided the final proof of her identity: the profile photo on Olga Kolobova’s Whatsapp account is the same one that she sent to her Neapolitan friends after her hasty departure.


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