Even in quiet and pretty areas of the Bronx, a Cold War may still be brewing.
The action takes place in northern Riverdale, an area notable by its, white apartment complex that houses diplomats and others who work for Russia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations. Across the road, on West 255th Street, sits an unassuming two-story house that residents believe doubles as an FBI command post, they told The New York Post.
“When my windows are open, I feel like Big Brother is watching me,” a 57-year-old resident who recently bought one of the homes facing the 20-story Russian tower at 355 West 255th St. said. The New York Post describes the area as being surrounded by spiked fencing and features sports facilities and a school for the children of mission employees.
“It’s also a real eyesore and spoils our view,” he said of the pre-fabricated apartment building that was built by the Soviet Union in 1974.
Residents who lived in the area when Soviet construction workers built the apartment complex as the Cold War raged on remember it going up “from top to bottom,” with pre-fabricated slabs of concrete affixed to the skeletal structure, according to The New York Post.
“It was like they were assembling a piece of furniture from IKEA, only on a massive scale,” one longtime Riverdale resident told The Post.
Builders and all construction materials were imported from Russia to minimize the risk of American intelligence using listening devices or sabotaging the construction, the resident told The Post.
Although it’s a mystery what goes on at the giant complex, a place many local residents call “the compound,” most assume that many of their Russian neighbors are spies.
The arrest of Russian spy Maria Butina in Washington last week didn’t shock them at all. The Justice Department’s recent indictments against 12 Russian nationals as special counsel Robert Mueller continued his probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election also didn’t elicit any sort of surprise from the residents.
In December 2016, President Obama expelled 35 alleged Russian spies in retaliation for attacking fundamental pillars of American democracy, namely the elections.
Soviet defector Arkady Shevchenko, a former advisor to the Soviet foreign ministry who lived in the building before he defected to the United States in 1978, noted in his book “Breaking with Moscow” that “the apartment building in Riverdale and the mission,” he continued “bristled with antennas for listening to American conversations.”
Neighbors are not surprised, and some expressed anger, that the residents of the compound never bothered to reach out to them or invite them in for a tour, according to The New York Post.
The FBI did not answer a request for comment.
By: Michael Blevins