British expat, 64, shares her Spanish home with a ‘Russian spy who booked a room on Airbnb’
A British expat living in Spain unwillingly shares her home with a man believed to be a Russian spy threatened by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Maria Lloyd, 64, had long rented out part of the house she shares with her husband Eladio Freijo, 77, near Madrid, to hundreds of strangers through Airbnb.
But now the retired couple have a permanent guest with a checkered past.
The visitor, a mysterious figure named Felipe Turover, 57, arrived at the couple’s Madrid property amid storm Filomena in January 2021 – the city’s heaviest snowfall in decades.
At first, Turover seemed like the perfect guest, helping with errands, playing with the family dog, and always paying on time.
But Turover eventually stopped paying, and after Googled her name, Maria discovered that her unwanted squatter was a former KGB agent once threatened with “liquidation” by Putin.
Now the Lloyd-Freijo family claim the former spy refuses to leave her home and, due to Spanish laws which make evicting squatters particularly difficult, has no choice but to share her property with a man. very dangerous.
“It’s a total nightmare I’m living with this,” Maria said.
“It’s my house, but he has more rights than us.”
Felipe Turover hugging Pippa, the Lloyd family dog. At first, Turover seemed like the perfect guest, helping with errands, playing with the dog, and always paying on time. But Turover eventually stopped paying
Maria, whose father Courtenay Lloyd taught Russian to British spies at the Joint Services School for Linguistics, said Turover was a welcome and thoughtful paying guest until September last year.
He originally booked a 10-day stay at Maria’s home in Villaviciosa de Odon, on the outskirts of the Spanish capital, and when the initial stay expired Turover negotiated an indefinite extension with his hosts.
Maria said the trio reached a verbal agreement and the guest pays every ten days “religiously”.
“He led a quiet life, going to an expensive gym used by Real Madrid players and into the mountains at weekends,” Maria told The Times. “He was never in our way.”
But over time, Maria became curious as to why her guest was staying so long and decided to google her name.
His quick internet search revealed that Turover was actually linked to the KGB – the Soviet Union’s notorious foreign intelligence and internal security service.
Even despite the startling revelation, Maria and her husband gave Turover the benefit of the doubt, believing that his time with the KGB had been left behind.
“I thought he was a good man who helped uncover the corruption. He paid on time and caused no problems,” Maria said.
However, when Turover suddenly stopped paying rent in September last year, things quickly turned sour.
After a few weeks, with Turover making excuses for why he couldn’t pay his dues, Maria and Eladio confronted their unwanted guest.
They said they were forced to call the Civil Guard when Turover adamantly refused to leave – at which point the ongoing saga descended into what Maria described as a “nightmare”.
Spanish police informed the concerned couple that due to Spanish housing laws, Turover could only be evicted if the hosts could obtain an official order from a judge.
Turover told Spanish newspaper El Pais: “Who doesn’t have a dispute with Airbnb or someone about having to pay more or less?” I may have had a few arguments, like half of Spain.
Online searches suggested Felipe Turover had a history as a former KGB agent, the Airbnb host said. But despite the startling revelation, Maria and her husband gave Turover the benefit of the doubt, believing his time with the KGB had been left behind.
Maria and Eladio opted to file a lawsuit in civil court in December in an attempt to force Turover out, but in the meantime they have no choice but to sleep in the adjoining room of a former Soviet spy.
The couple are now likely facing a long and potentially costly legal battle.
“How can this happen to us in our own house? Lloyd said.
“We are at our wit’s end.”
Turover himself has repeatedly spoken of his ties to the KGB.
He was cited as a key contributor to the book “Putin’s People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took On the West” by former Financial Times Moscow correspondent Catherine Belton.
He also told El Pais that his life was threatened by Russian President Vladimir Putin for a cup of tea in Moscow in 1999.
According to the former spy, he was heavily involved in the downfall of Boris Yeltsin, who served as Russia’s first president from 1991 to 1999 after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Turover, who allegedly leaked sensitive information about Yeltsin and other senior officials to Swiss prosecutors months before Yeltsin was replaced, quickly realized he was in danger.
He said Putin met him in a Moscow hotel one night in September 1999, where he was told: “You have two weeks to leave the country. If you don’t go, we’ll either lock you up or we’ll liquidate you.