Yes, I had affairs with MP and foreign officials but I’m not a spy
18 Oct 2011
A suspected Russian spy has admitted having a four-year relationship with a British MP as well as a string of relationships with other foreign officials.
Katia Zatuliveter, 26, who is fighting deportation, told an immigration panel today that she moved to the UK after becoming romantically involved with Liberal Democrat MP Mike Hancock.
But she denied being an agent for the Russian Intelligence Service, claiming British people are obsessed with John Le Carré novels.
Asked by Tim Owen QC whether she was enlisted as a spy while studying international relations at university in St Petersburg, Miss Zatuliveter said: “We’ve never been seated in a canteen discussing Russian intelligence over lunch, or raising it with professors.
“People in the UK are more aware. How many movies are there in the UK? I can only name you one Soviet movie about espionage. We don’t have such a figure like John Le Carré.”
In the first counter-espionage case heard by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, Miss Zatuliveter emphatically denied using her position as a parliamentary researcher for Mr Hancock to pass on secrets to Russian spy masters in London and Moscow.
She revealed how she met Mr Hancock when he went to Russia as part of a UK delegation in 2006 and embarked on a sexual relationship that continued until March last year. During that time Miss Zatuliveter moved to Britain to study for a masters degree.
The panel heard how Miss Zatuliveter wrote in her diary that Mr Hancock told her he wanted to sleep with her soon after they met and tried to give her a CD and money.
Jonathan Glasson, representing the Secretary of State, accused Miss Zatuliveter of targeting Mr Hancock because of his position and his reputation for “extra-marital affairs”.
Mr Glasson said: “You were pleased to be receiving attention from a foreign man who was in a powerful position?” Miss Zatuliveter said she was not aware of who he was.
The panel, presided over by Mr Justice Mitting, and former MI5 boss Sir Stephen Lander, heard Miss Zatuliveter tell how she had three other relationships with foreign dignitaries whom she had met while she was studying.
The Russian was stopped at Gatwick airport in August last year and arrested in December amid fears that she was engaged in espionage.
Asked why she should be allowed to remain in the UK, Miss Zatuliveter said: “Because I’m innocent and I don’t think I should be deported when I haven’t done anything.”