Damian Lewis: Spy Wars

Russian spies pose as all-American family

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The Murphys’ wholesome all-American image was an elaborate facade. The New Jersey couple were really Vladimir and Lydia Guryev - trained members of Russia’s foreign intelligence service. They were ‘Illegals’: deep-cover agents, who had assumed false identities to enter the United States.

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To their neighbours, Cynthia Murphy was the family’s bread-winner, working in finance in upstate New York and Richard Murphy was a stay-at-home dad, looking after their two young daughters. Richard and Cynthia Murphy were, a married couple, but married only per instructions and arrangement by the Russian Intelligence Service.

Their children, their homes, their lives were mere cover positions for their real purpose in life, which was to work against US interests on behalf of the Russian Intelligence Service. The Guryevs’ goal was to pass themselves off as true American patriots: to embed themselves completely in US society.

The idea of sending them to America was to use them as talent spotters. They would be joining clubs, scientific societies, political organisations, in order to meet interesting and influential people and to befriend them. And then pass information about them to Moscow.

After years of training at notorious Russian spy school ‘The Institute’, Vladimir and Lidiya Guryev were dispatched to the US as Richard and Cynthia Murphy. In the mid-1990s, they befriended their New Jersey neighbours, started a family and embarked on a life of deception.

And Vladimir and Lidiya Guryev were not acting alone. They were part of a deep-cover spy ring of 10 Russian agents, who over the previous decade, had systematically infiltrated some of America’s most secure and well-to-do neighbourhoods.

Spy Wars Series 1 Episode 3