Their cover blown, 10 Russian spies have given up their lives in the U.S. and headed home, but in at least one case their children probably won't follow.
A lawyer for Vicky Pelaez said on Thursday that the teenage son she had with fellow Russian agent Mikhail Vasenkov during the decades they spent living in New York will most likely remain in the U.S., as would her 38-year-old son from a prior marriage. "He is 17 years of age. He'll probably stay with his brother," attorney John Rodriguez said.
Arrangements were being made to relocate other children of the 10 Russian spies, who on Thursday admitted infiltrating the U.S. under assumed names to gather information for Moscow.
Hours after pleading guilty on Thursday, all 10 members of the spy ring, including eight who are parents and have children in the U.S., were deported to Russia. Just how soon their children might join them is unclear.
One other convicted couple, Mikhail Kutsik and Natalia Pereverzeva, had been making arrangements even before the plea deal to send their two young children home to Russia.
Prosecutors said in court papers last week that the pair, who had been living in Seattle and Arlington, Virginia, under the aliases Michael Zottoli and Patricia Mills, had asked family friends to get in touch with relatives and arrange for them to take custody of the kids, ages 1 and 3.
It wasn't immediately clear what type of travel arrangements were being made for the four other children involved in the case. Vladimir and Lydia Guryev, who had been living in Montclair, New Jersey, under the names Richard and Cynthia Murphy, have two daughters, ages 7 and 11. Both attended a public elementary school and are believed to have lived their entire lives in the U.S. Officials have declined to comment on their whereabouts.
Andrey Bezrukov and Elena Vavilova, who lived in Cambridge, Massachussetts, under the aliases Donald Heathfield and Tracey Foley, have two sons a 20-year-old student at George Washington University and a 16-year-old who attended a private high school in Boston.
A move for the two children might not necessarily be disruptive. They already have spent time living in France and speak several languages.
A senior U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the deal said the kids will be permitted to leave the U.S. at any time, as long as the departure complies with the wishes of the parents and with any applicable requirements of U.S. law.
The sons of Pelaez and Vasenkov, who had gone for decades by the name Juan Lazaro, were in court to watch them plead guilty. Juan Lazaro Jr., 17, is a gifted pianist who has lived his whole life in the U.S., although he has spent considerable time in Peru, where his mother was born. Pelaez's other son, Waldo Mariscal, is an architect.
Neither commented as they left the courthouse. They had been living with Pelaez and Vasenkov in Yonkers, just north of New York City, but their home is to be seized by U.S. authorities because it was bought for the couple by Russia's intelligence service.
It was unclear whether the two knew Vasenkov's real name. Vasenkov had been romantically involved with Pelaez for 30 years. The two met in Peru, where she worked as a television journalist before moving to the U.S. and taking a job in New York writing for El Diario La Prensa, a Spanish-language newspaper. Pelaez's lawyer, Rodriguez, said that after being deported to Russia she intends to return to Peru, where the family has a ranch.
Presumably, either of her sons could follow her there, Rodriguez said, although he added that Russian officials had offered the family rent-free housing in Russia, a $2,000-per-month stipend and visas that would allow them to come and go from the country as they please.