Andrew Osborn

 

 

Chief Russia Correspondent

 

Deputy Bureau Chief Russia/CIS

 

Reuters

 

 

The honeytrap girl who stung Kremlin critics

The Daily Telegraph, 28th April 2010 16:02

By Andrew Osborn in Moscow

SHE has piercing blue eyes, an innocent girl-next-door face and likes to do a little amateur modelling — yet according to her victims, Ekaterina Gerasimova is also the Kremlin's most effective secret agent and a latter-day Mata Hari.

Her mission, it is claimed, is to discredit prominent Kremlin critics by luring them into compromising situations using vintage KGB honeytrap techniques.

Offering her body, sex, and drugs from cocaine to marijuana as an inducement, "Katya" as she is usually known, has tried and often succeeded in bedding at least half a dozen high-profile Kremlin critics. The damage to reputations she has inflicted has varied from serious to negligible depending on her victim's marital status and response.

Her latest victim was Viktor Shenderovich, a journalist and the scriptwriter on a Russian version of the Spitting Image television satire.

Mr Shenderovich, who is married with a daughter, admits that he slept with Miss Gerasimova but claims he was set up by the Kremlin.

His credibility as an authoritative critic of Vladimir Putin, the prime minister, appears to have been at least partly dented and his marriage is now reportedly in trouble.

Mikhail Fishman, the editor of Russian Newsweek magazine, also fell under Miss Gerasimova's spell and was filmed in his underpants chopping up what looked like cocaine after apparently having sex.

A clutch of anti-Kremlin opposition figures and activists, including a man who resembled the leader of the National Bolshevik Party, have also been caught in flagrante delicto.

But unlike Soviet times, when the secret service used compromising material to blackmail, Miss Gerasimova's exploits have been widely publicised in grainy and heavily edited videos on the internet.

The footage is often accompanied by mocking music and subtitles. It has taken a few weeks for the victims to realise that they have all been set up by the same girl.

Yet little is known about her beyond that she is in her twenties and is registered with an online modelling agency that supplied girls for advertising campaigns, trade exhibitions and fashion shoots.

Pictures of her show a brunette posing in her underwear wearing pink nail varnish and a broad smile. Nicknamed "Moo-Moo" after the surname she uses on a social networking site, she used different first names, had varying cover stories, and was highly persistent in her advances. victims said.

Some of the men said they knew something was wrong when she suddenly produced drugs or, in one case, asked a young opposition leader to join her and a female friend in experimenting with a large selection of sex toys. The politician, Ilya Yashin, said he left at that point after asking her whether they were being filmed.

Katya seems to have disappeared but at least one other prominent Kremlin critic has said he expects a similar video featuring himself and the woman to reach the internet soon.