An alleged Russian spy worked as an award-winning glamorous eyelash expert in a suburban London beauty parlour.
Vanya Gaberova, 29, is the youngest member of an alleged spy ring made up of Bulgarian nationals.
Locals in Acton, West London, have told how the “eyelash extension specialist” was an unlikely candidate for a spy working on behalf of Vladimir Putin’s Russian regime.
One restaurant owner toldThe Sun: “If she was a spy, she was a good one”.
Ms Gaberova is one of five Bulgarians charged on Thursday with “conspiring to collect information intended to be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy for a purpose prejudicial to the safety and interests of the state”.
They’re said to have worked as alleged spies between August 2020 and February this year.
Ms Gaverova is thought to have lived a quiet life in west London with her partner, a decorator and according to Tiago Nogueria.
The manager of Portuguese restaurant Villamoura – opposite Ms Gaberova’s shop Pretty Woman – said: “She was very timid, discreet, she came across as normal”.
“I wouldn’t have suspected her of being a spy but if she was, she was a good one. I knew her for two or three years and I never expected that.”
He revealed Ms Gaberova would visit the restaurant for coffees and teas as well as “cheese and chorizo sandwiches”.
He added: “She was a regular customer. But then she just stopped coming here. It was unexpected, like she disappeared”.
Mr Nogueria said he would “never have suspected any of this to happen with someone like her. Clearly she was a professional at hiding it if she was a spy”.
He added: “You would never dream that person would be involved in something like that.”
Ms Gaberova won prizes at the Grand Balkan Lash and Brow Championship in 2019 for her classic lashes and 2/3D volume.
Photos posted on social media show her posing with a trophy and a certificate.
One trophy was displayed at her West London beauty salon, which she ran before her arrest in February.
She was rounded up with three men and another woman following a joint operation y London’s Metropolitan Police and Britains’ MI5 security service.
A couple, Bizer Dzhambazov, 41, and Katrin Ivanova, 31, of Harrow, north west London, were initially charged along with Orlin Roussev, 45, of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, in England’s east, with possession of false documents.
Mr Gaberova and boyfriend Ivan Stoyanov, of Greenford, west London, were bailed.
Announcing the charges, Nick Price, head of the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) special crime and counter terrorism division, said all five were “suspected of spying for Russia”.
Mr Price said “Roussev, Dzhambazov, and Ivanova were previously charged on 11 February 2023 with possession of false identity documents with improper intention”.
The five will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, in London, on Tuesday.
Her salon remained open yesterday with one female employee working there.
Ms Gaberova, whose business is called VG Pretty Woman Ltd, is said to have studied at Bulgaria’s University of National and World Economy.
Her biography for the 2020 Ukrainian Lash and Brow Championships lists her as winning 15 individual awards for eyelash work.
Another post claimed she had been “trained by the world’s best trainers” and started her career in 2016.
Other posts — since deleted from her Facebook account — boasted of her role as a judge in the Golden Top world lash championships.
She won awards in Russia’s Beauty Battle in 2020 for 2D lashes volume and 3D volume.
Her social media profile claims she enjoys “travelling, cooking, shopping, walking, and reading”.
It is suspected the spy ring also carried out surveillance operations on sensitive sites in Germany and Montenegro.
Police discovered fake documents, including passports and driving licences, where Mr Roussev was living and allegedly found forged press cards.
There was also clothing for the Discovery and National Geographic TV channels.
Neighbours of Mr Dzhambazov and Ms Ivanova said the pair lived in the area for around ten years.
The married couple are said to have called over to neighbours in Harrow, northwest London, with gifts of cakes and pies.
This story appeared in The Sun and is reproduced with permission.