Virginia "Vicky" Peláez Ocampo
Photo taken by U.S. Marshals
Born 1956
Cuzco, Peru[1]
Residence Moscow, Russia[2]
Occupation Journalist and agent of the Russian Federation
Known for Involvement with Russian Illegals Program
Criminal charge Conspiracy to act as an unlawful agent of a foreign government[3]
Criminal penalty Time served (11 days)
Criminal status Deported to Russia[4]
Spouse(s) Mikhail Vasenkov (a.k.a. Juan Lazaro)
Children Waldo Mariscal
Juan Lazaro Jr.

Virginia "Vicky" Peláez Ocampo (born 1956, Cuzco, Peru)[1] is a Peruvian journalist and columnist, currently for The Moscow News newspaper. She is known for her leftist writings in El Diario La Prensa, a New York City Spanish language newspaper. Prior to working in the United States, Peláez was one of the first female television reporters in Peru where she reported for Frecuencia Latina.[5]

Career[edit | edit source]

As a reporter in the 1980s, Peláez gained a reputation as a sensationalist and often placed herself in the stories she was covering. The Peruvian magazine Teleguia called her "the most aggressive journalist on TV."[5][6]

In 1984, Peláez and her cameraman Percy Raborg were kidnapped by the Peruvian rebel group Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA). MRTA demanded Frecuencia Latina air a propaganda video in exchange for the release of Peláez and Raborg. The station agreed to air the video and Peláez and Raborg were released hours after airing.[5] Raborg has since claimed that Peláez was a willing participant in the kidnapping.[7]

After moving to the United States, she worked for El Diario La Prensa for more than two decades.[5] Her writings have been critical of United States foreign policy and supportive of Latin American leaders Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro.[8]

Illegals Program[edit | edit source]

Main article: Illegals Program
File:Juan Lazaro mug shot.jpg

Mikhail A. Vasenkov (Juan Lazaro)

In June 2010, Peláez, along with her husband Mikhail Anatolyevich Vasenkov (Михаил Анатольевич Васенков, alias Juan Lazaro) and nine others, was arrested on charges of conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government without notifying the U.S. Attorney General.[9] The operations of this group was dubbed by American authorities as the "Illegals Program" directed by Russia. Waldo Mariscal, the eldest son of Peláez, claimed the U.S. government was persecuting his parents for their political views.[7]

On 8 July 2010, Peláez pleaded guilty to working in the United States as an unregistered foreign agent for Russia, and agreed to be deported and never return, in exchange for the U.S. dropping the more serious charge of money laundering and waiving any jail time.[4] According to one of her lawyers, Peláez's United States citizenship has been "revoked".[10]

According to her lawyer, Peláez was placed in a Moscow apartment provided by Russian authorities. She turned down a US$2000 per month offer from the Russian government and was reportedly planning to return to Peru.[2] Her husband's lawyer stated that Vasenkov wanted to leave Moscow for Peru: "He says he's Juan Lazaro and he's not from Russia and doesn't speak Russian. He wants to be where his wife is going, to her native country, where it will be easier for Juan Jr. to visit. His family comes first."[11]

Afterwards[edit | edit source]

On 19 February 2011, it was reported Vicky Peláez returned to Peru to attend her father's burial; she was not accompanied by Vasenkov.[12] Since August 2011, Peláez has been a contributor to The Moscow News[13]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Annie Correal and Cristina Lobogerrero (2 July 2010). "Vicky Peláez: Life of an Alleged Spy". El Diario La Prensa (New Media America). Retrieved 26 August 2010. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Non-Russian spy Pelaez reportedly to return to Peru". RIAN. 13 July 2010. Retrieved 13 July 2010. 
  3. "Suspected Russian spies charged in US". BBC News. 29 June 2010. Retrieved 13 July 2010. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Serrano, Richard A. (9 July 2010). "Spy suspects are traded to Russia after guilty pleas". Los Angeles Times.,0,7361896.story?page=1. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Kavanagh, Jim (29 June 2010). "Alleged Russian agent was dramatic TV reporter in Peru". CNN. 
  6. Annie Correal and Cristina Lobogerrero (30 June 2010). "Vicky Peláez: una constante crítica del sistema" (in Spanish). El Diario La Prensa. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Gonzalez, Juan (30 June 2010). "Vicky Pelaez, caught in alleged Russian spy ring, lived life in spotlight as El Diario columnist". Daily News (New York). 
  8. McCune, Marrianne (29 June 2010). "Colleagues of Alleged Spy Vicky Pelaez 'Can't Believe It'". WNYC. 
  9. Manny Fernandez and Fernanda Santos (29 June 2010). "Couples Accused as Spies Were Suburbs Personified". New York Times. 
  10. "Vicky Peláez's citizenship 'revoked' per lawyer"
  11. Usborne, David (9 August 2010). "Former spy 'is not Russian and wants to go to Peru'". The Independent. Retrieved 9 August 2010. 
  12. Peruvian from US spy scandal back home
  13. Vicky Pelaez The list of her articles published in The Moscow News.

External links[edit | edit source]

Articles in support of Peláez[edit | edit source]

Pieces authored by Peláez[edit | edit source]

es:Vicky Peláez

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