US revokes Peruvian ex-defense minister’s visa over alleged spy links

Vicky Peláez and  Mikhail Vasenkov
The United States has allegedly revoked an entry visa previously issued to the former Deputy Minister of Defense of Peru, over suspicions that he is connected to a major Russian espionage ring found operating in the United States. Fabián Novak had his visa revoked after he was allegedly included on a list drawn by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, containing names of individuals connected to a Russian illegals program caught operating in the US in 2010. According to El Comercio, Peru’s oldest newspaper, Novak, who served as the country’s Deputy Defense Minster between 2006 and 2008, met repeatedly with two members of the 11-member Russian spy ring, which was busted in a series of coordinated raids across several US states in July of 2010. The Lima-based daily quotes an anonymous “high-level [US] government source” who claims that Novak directly contacted two of the 11 Russian spies, who entered the United States from Peru, using Uruguayan and Peruvian travel documentation. The two, Vicky Peláez, who posed as a journalist, and her husband Mikhail Anatolyevich Vasenkov (alias Juan Lazaro), an adjunct professor, were among nearly a dozen Russian illegals swapped less than two weeks after their arrests by the FBI with several CIA spies held in Russian prisons. The El Comercio source claimed that, according to the FBI, Novak met with two officials from the Russian embassy in Lima at least twice, in 2001 and 2006, to discuss the activities of Peláez and Vasenkov in the US. Novak, who is currently Director of the Institute of International Studies (IDEI) at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru in Lima, was contacted by El Comercio. He flatly denied the paper’s allegations, saying that his post at IDEI involves frequent meetings with foreign diplomats stationed in Peru. He also told the paper that his meetings with the Russian embassy officials were “connected to regional issues and domestic Peruvian political affairs”. The paper also contacted the embassy of the United States in Lima, which did not comment and refused to speculate as to whether it would issue any official statements regarding Novak.

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