25th March 2023 – (Washington) The U.S. Department of Justice has released a statement accusing Russian citizen Sergey Cherkasov of acting in the interests of Russian intelligence and being involved in crimes related to visa and bank fraud in the United States. Cherkasov is currently in custody in Brazil under the alias Victor Muller Ferreira.
Cherkasov, 37, allegedly came to Brazil in 2010 with a Russian passport and began acting as an illegal agent in 2012 under the Ferreira name. In 2017, he obtained a US student visa and attended an American university in the D.C. metropolitan area. He opened a US bank account, obtained a driver’s license in Virginia, and made connections to persons of interest in the United States, while maintaining communications with his RIS handlers.
Cherkasov allegedly sent information about US foreign policy to Russian intelligence in 2021 and 2022. In 2022, he attempted to obtain employment at the International Criminal Court in The Hague but was barred from entering the Netherlands. In April 2022, he was arrested in Brazil on fraud charges related to his use of the false Ferreira identity and was later sentenced to 15 years in prison.
The Brazilian authorities informed the Russian government about Cherkasov’s detention, and Russian diplomats confirmed his identity. The Russian Federation has filed documents to extradite Cherkasov, accusing him of involvement in drug trafficking. However, the US claims that this request is based on knowingly false information, and that Russia’s real intention is to bring Cherkasov back to Russia.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s indictment against Cherkasov also includes charges of wire fraud and acting as an agent of a foreign power. These charges carry severe penalties, including up to life imprisonment. The Justice Department’s statement warns that the United States will pursue anyone who tries to interfere with its democratic processes or national security, regardless of where they are located.