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The Women's House: How former neighbors in the dorm for GRU illegals work undercover

The arrest in Norway of a GRU illegal Mikhail Mikushin, posing as a Brazilian professor Jose Assis Giammaria, raised a lot of hubbub. The Insider noted that before he was sent to a station abroad, Mikushin had been registered in the officers' dormitory of the Military Diplomatic Academy (MDA) at Bldg. 4, 52 Narodnogo Opolcheniya Street in Moscow. In Soviet times this multi-story building was called the “illegals' house” and later some GRU officer called it the “women's house” because it was used as a registered address for officers' wives, whose husbands couldn't register there for reasons of secrecy. The Insider studied the biographies of the women's house tenants: many of them still serve under the guise of diplomats, others actively travel under the guise of representatives of various government agencies, and still others have mysteriously disappeared - which may indicate that they have long become illegals abroad with fake IDs.

  • “Diplomats”

  • “State company managers” and “professors”

  • And others...


The fourteen-story illegals' house is located next to the officers' dormitories near the GRU Military Diplomatic Academy (MDA) building. Since it was built in 1975, it has housed thousands of families of GRU officers who, first on instructions from the CPSU and then from the leadership of “democratic” Russia, spied around the world. Most of the tenants studied at the 1st faculty of the MDA, which trains illegals and spies under diplomatic cover (“jackets” or “undercovers” in intelligence slang), or at the 2nd faculty (agent-operative intelligence) for subsequent work abroad as military attachés.

After Alexander Krapiva, a GRU officer from the Vienna station, escaped to the West in 1991, “leaking” conspiratorial methods of the military intelligence service to the Americans, the GRU began using the apartment building mostly as a registered address for the wives of MDA students (most of them are already married when they enter the MDA). Since then, the house has been jokingly called the “women's house”. Wives were employed by the housing management office of the Military Academy for the sake of appearance; future spies lived together with their families while studying t the Academy but were registered in officers' dorms located elsewhere: on Marshala Biryuzova Street, Svobody Street, Khoroshevskoye highway, Volokolamsk drive and in the village of Zagoryansky (Shchelkovsky district of the Moscow region).


For example, children's educator Natalia Tsarikova, who wrote a textbook for parents “Growing Up Cultured”, was registered in the dormitory. Her husband Igor Tsarikov graduated from Novosibirsk Higher Military-Political Combined Arms School (NVVPOU) in 1993. Unlike other political instructors who fell under massive redundancy cuts in the 90s, Tsarikov was fluent in English and German, and he was invited to the GRU. After studying at the 1st faculty of the Military Diplomatic Academy, he was assigned to the 3rd European Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which supervised Austria, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Poland, Slovakia, Germany, the Czech Republic and Switzerland. Five years ago, the post of Russian Foreign Ministry's official representative for Syrian refugees was created specifically for Tsarikov. “Diplomat” Tsarikov speaks extensively on the situation in refugee camps and accuses the US and its allies of double standards. As for double standards, his daughter Veronica studied at Humboldt University in Berlin and enjoys travelling to NATO countries.

Igor Tsarikov
Igor Tsarikov

The Zhemchuzhnikov family is listed as neighbors of the Tsarikovs in the Women's House. The head of the family, Sergei Zhemchuzhnikov, was born in Kharkov; he used to be a representative of the GRU in Tajikistan, and now serves undercover as the 1st Secretary in the Section of Russian Interests at the Embassy of Switzerland in Georgia. After the events in South Ossetia in August 2008, Georgia broke off diplomatic relations with Russia, and the representation of Moscow's interests was taken over by Switzerland. The Section of Russian Interests is located in the building of the Russian Consulate in Tbilisi and has 13 employees. In 2012 there was a tragedy in the Zhemchuzhnikov family: their 15-year-old son Denis died of cardiac arrest during a school relay race. Judging by the Vesti Moskva TV report, the teenager could have been saved, but the ambulance that arrived had broken equipment.

Before Lieutenant Colonel Zhemchuzhnikov, the position of the 1st secretary in Tbilisi was held by another MDA graduate - Colonel Evgeny Shipilov who had previously served in the 175th communications control brigade in the Rostov region (military unit 01957), and then spied under diplomatic cover in Lithuania. Coincidentally, Shipilov's name disappeared from the Section's website immediately after last year's visit to Moscow by Swiss intelligence chief Jean-Philippe Gaudin, during which he met with Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev. According to official information, Patrushev and Godin “exchanged views on the problems of countering coronavirus infection and issues of strategic stability and bilateral security cooperation.” However, The Insider's source in the Georgian parliament said that the main purpose of Godin's visit “was not the pandemic but the situation with Shipilov, who had been identified by our counterintelligence. The guy completely lost his bearings and behaved as if he were at home”. Apparently, Patrushev and Godin came to a compromise: the “brash” Shipilov was ordered back to Moscow, and Lieutenant Colonel Zhemchuzhnikov was sent to replace him.

Six women from the Women's House have husbands seconded to the Ministry of Economic Development. The Ministry of Economic Development has offices in 58 foreign countries - and almost all of them employ “undercover officers” from the GRU who are engaged in “establishing trade relations”. There is information only about two of the six secondees.

The first is Sergei Sikachev. He graduated from the Popov Naval Institute of Radio Electronics in St. Petersburg and then worked as an advisor at the Russian Consulate in San Francisco. In 2017, U.S. authorities closed the consulate, calling it a spy nest.

The second is Sergei Bublikov. Apparently, he was not the last person at the GRU's Balkan station. In 2006, he worked in Bulgaria under the cover of a Russian trade representative. Shortly before the GRU-organized coup attempt in Montenegro in 2016, Bublikov was transferred to that country and served as an adviser to the Russian ambassador.

There is a video on YouTube showing him meeting with local Night Wolves leader Vukoman Bulatovich and pro-Kremlin Cossacks three months before the conspirators' arrests. When the coup failed, Bublikov rejoined the trade mission in Bulgaria. However, in March 2022 Bulgarian authorities accused him of spying and expelled him from the country.

In the process of studying at the Military Academy, those who were found unfit for the upcoming career of an illegal were transferred to the faculty for military attachés but were allowed to stay in the dormitory. And indeed, many female residents of the dormitory on Narodnogo Opolcheniya Street are wives of military attachés. This formally diplomatic position is in fact always held by a GRU officer. For example, a graduate of the Leningrad Combined Arms Military School Nikolai Tsybulia served in the marines in Sevastopol, where he was spotted by a GRU recruiter. After studying at the 2nd Faculty of Military Academy Tsybulia was sent to South Africa, and then to Nigeria. Now the former marine is an attaché in Ethiopia. Another attaché, Pavel Anisov, serves at the Russian Embassy in Mongolia.

Colonel Igor Shcherbakov was previously involved in military affairs in Switzerland, and now his name is listed on the website of the Russian embassy in Armenia. Where Sergey Makhovnev now serves is unknown, but previously he was a military representative to the U.S. and Mexico. Assistant Air Attaché at the Russian embassy in the Czech Republic Viktor Budyak was included in the 2021 list of personas non grata and expelled from the country.

Among the residents of the Women's House there are two dozen underage children whose fathers were trained as spies at the MDA. The names of their parents are not among those of the house residents. One of them is Sofia Solomasova, born in 2010. Her father, Sergei Solomasov, was registered at an officers' dormitory in northern Moscow for secrecy reasons. Until 2017, he served as military attaché in France, and is now settled in Slovakia.

Solomasov as military attaché
Solomasov as military attaché

Last March, Slovakia's counterintelligence agency posted online a video of Solomasov recruiting freelance journalist for Hlavné správy, Bohuš Garbár, and offering him 1,000 euros as a motivational incentive: “We should drink together, talk. We need to talk frankly. I need political information about relations between the countries within NATO and the European Union. Can you do that?” Solomasov is asking.

GRU officer Solomasov attempts to give a journalist a 1,000-euro bribe
GRU officer Solomasov attempts to give a journalist a 1,000-euro bribe

“State company managers” and “professors”

Several husbands of the dormitory dwellers turned out to be assigned to large state corporations. For example, Dmitry Kandyba and Sergey Shikhovets are listed as Rosatom employees. Kandyba works as an advisor, and Shikhovets works for the uranium mining company Atomredmetzoloto, a part of that state corporation. Before becoming an “atomic scientist,” Shikhovets graduated from Ryazan Higher Command School, fought in Chechnya, and after studying at the “eastern faculty” of the MDA, was sent to China and Japan as an “undercover.”

After the Academy, Mikhail Koreshkov taught at the GRU training center in Zagoryansky (military unit 36360), then he was sent to the Pipe Metallurgical Company (TMK). The company is one of the world's top three pipe producers and has branches in Romania, the Czech Republic, China, the UAE, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. Which branch Koreshkov used as a cover for spying is anyone's guess.

A dormitory dweller with a rare name Sevir Ivanov graduated from the Foreign Information Faculty of the Ministry of Defense's Military University (VUMO), from which many graduates go straight to the GRU, SVR and FSB. Currently he works for Zarubezhneft-Dobycha.

Another state corporation secondee, Vladimir Marchenko, also first graduated from VUMO, and then joined the GRU. In 1994, under the guise of a promising Russian businessman, he was sent to Maastricht in the Netherlands, where he studied under the MBA program of the International Institute of Management. Subsequently, officer Marchenko's service record includes: General Director of Aurora Capital LLC, Advisor to the Chairman of the Management Board of Gazprombank JSCB, member of the Board of Directors of Aurora Oil LLC, President of Pan African Metals Corporation (Switzerland), Vice President of ALROSA (in charge of the company's operations in Africa), and since January 2018 Deputy General Director of ALROSA.

Vladimir Marchenko portrays an effective manager
Vladimir Marchenko portrays an effective manager

African countries are supervised by the 4th Directorate of the GRU, and its officers played a significant role in organizing “Russia-Africa” summits. Moreover, according to The Insider's source in military intelligence, some of the officials had started cooperating with the GRU back in the Soviet Union era.

Vladimir Putin at a summit organized by the GRU
Vladimir Putin at a summit organized by the GRU

Other “jackets” from the dormitory settled in educational institutions where they have direct contacts with foreign universities.

For example, students of the Moscow State Regional University (MSRU) have no idea that Valery Makarchenko, an adviser to the rector on international affairs, worked for a long time in the GRU's Munich station. After his return to Moscow, he set up a Center for German Language and Culture, but the business folded due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, Makarchenko never lost his ties with Bavaria, and before the closure of the borders with the EU, he had been organizing visits to Moscow for German officials, professors and students.

GRU officer Valery Makarchenko as a professor
GRU officer Valery Makarchenko as a professor

And others...

Despite the secrecy, several tenants of the Women's House were identified by the SBU and placed on various blacklists or the “Peacemaker” database. For example, Arkady Verkhoglyadov, former GRU representative in Transnistria, Mikhail Kushinsky, adviser to the Russian Ambassador to Iran, Evgeny Arshaninov, a combat helicopter specialist, and Gennady Kutyin from the GRU intelligence center in Matrosskaya Tishina Street (military unit 46188) were put on the lists. A woman, junior sergeant Elena Bushina from military unit 58147-3, is also listed among the outed tenants.

The Insider managed to find out the biographies of two more occupants of the MDA's women's house. Sergey Krasnobryzhiy works as a light helicopter salesman and shuttles between Ukraine and Canada. And Nikolay Chernov is considered by the GRU to be a big expert on Southeast Asia.

By the way, his son, Timofey, is involved in parallel imports from China and Turkey:

“For a long time, you have been doing your business with Europe and the USA, but due to the recent events import of goods, currency conversion, and conclusion of contracts with those countries have become either impossible or highly problematic. Our company offers you help in resolving this issue by importing through Turkey. The arrangement is simple. A Turkish legal entity buys your goods, and we organize logistics, re-export your goods and ship them to Russia,” the GRU officer's son advertises his business.

While his father is in charge of Southeast Asia at the GRU, Chernov Jr. has established parallel imports from China and Turkey to circumvent sanctions
While his father is in charge of Southeast Asia at the GRU, Chernov Jr. has established parallel imports from China and Turkey to circumvent sanctions

As The Insider has found out, there have been unrecoverable losses among the former occupants of the Women's House. One of them is Aliaksandr Pukhkan, a graduate of the 3rd faculty of the MDA (operational and tactical reconnaissance). He was born in Riga in the family of a Soviet army serviceman and studied at the Minsk Suvorov Military School. Then he moved to Russia and served in a separate reconnaissance company of the Airborne Troops in Ivanovo (military unit 65391) and the 45th regiment of Special Forces of the Airborne Troops in Kubinka (military unit 28337). According to some reports, Pukhkan commanded a GRU sabotage group in Syria, Crimea and Donbass, and died unexpectedly of a stroke in 2015.

Curiously, Pukhkan has a younger brother, Dmitry, who took a different path. After graduating from the Kaluga and Moscow Theological Schools, he was sent to Kyiv to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), where he had a successful spiritual career and rose to the rank of archimandrite. A year ago, by the decision of the Holy Synod of the UOC Archimandrite Antony (Pukhkan) was ordained bishop of Korsun-Shevchenko, vicar of the Cherkasy diocese. It should be noted that after the Russian aggression against Ukraine, the UOC, which is under the patronage of the Moscow Patriarchate, fell on hard times: the majority of parishioners were at least surprised by the ambivalent position of the UOC leadership, criminal cases were filed against several dozen priests for collaborationism, and the SBU conducted searches in some churches and monasteries. The UOC leadership urgently announced that it had severed most ties with the Moscow Patriarchate and issued a statement: “The Church urges its flock through prayer and good deeds to help the Motherland defend peace on all its territories, strongly condemning the aggression of the Russian army against the Ukrainian people.”

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