Was everyone as surprised as I was to learn this week about the ring of deep undercover Russian spies in America?
I'm not surprised, per se, that our countries are still spying on each other. Of course we are. But to have that fake married couple imbedded in NJ? Yes, the mother's job as a financial analyst in NYC did put her in a position to interact with important people—but... I just can't grasp the EFFORT of concocting those false backgrounds and building a family life in Montclair!
I keep trying to imagine what life was like for them, pretending to be people they weren't, hiding the fact that they were Russian... How on Earth do you DO that? Where did they get their English training? It's one thing to "pass" here or there—it's quite another to make close suburban friends and not end up giving yourself away by tiny syntactical or pop cultural errors!
More than anything, though, I keep thinking about their two daughters! A friend of mine from when we lived in Brooklyn is now living in Montclair, and their older daughters go to the same school and are in the same grade... She, and I'm sure parents all over, are worrying about what has happened in the past few days—and what will happen—to those poor children?
In order to maintain the parents' cover (are they actually the parents, and are they married—it's being alleged that they might not be), these girls have probably been told lies their whole lives about their family's background. Do they have any idea who their grandparents are? Do they have any idea what/where Russia even is? It would probably have been too dangerous for them to know anything about Russia, given that the mother was trying to pass off her accent as Belgian...
Where will these girls live now? With whom?
What a sad, sad mess.
I also keep thinking of all the other kids in their classes, of all the parents who are pretty much flabbergasted in the town...
Almost any information they could have garnered about American life in Montclair, they could also have found on the internet... Yes, the internet didn't exist as it does now back in the early '90s when this spy operation was begun—but it's hard to believe that no one had second thoughts about continuing the operation in light of how the internet has evolved!
It reminds me of the summer of 2007, when we lost Natalia's American speech therapist in Moscow (she and her diplomat husband were kicked out for life) in the aftermath of the murder of the ex-KGB spy by Polonium in London... Stories like this are for thriller novels, for movies...