U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres on Wednesday called again for the FBI to investigate the Russian Diplomatic Compound in North Riverdale after concerns were raised that the towering complex is harboring Russian spies.
“Given the heightened risk of Russian retaliation against the United States for aiding the Ukrainian struggle for self-rule, the FBI should strongly consider assessing whether the presence of the Russian Diplomatic Compound in the Bronx threatens the national security interests of the United States,” Torres wrote in a letter to the FBI.
Back in March as the Russian invasion of Ukraine entered its fourth week, the congressman spoke in front of the Cold-war-era compound on the corner of 255th Street and Mosholu Avenue, urging for the bureau to launch a probe into who lives there.
“It is an open secret that members of both the Russian military intelligence service and the foreign intelligence service — members of both intelligence services — reside right here at the Russian Diplomatic Compound,” Torres said at the March press conference. “It is literally the highest building at the highest point in the north Bronx. And it is both metaphorically and literally a structure of surveillance.”
This most recent letter is more specific, calling for the bureau to make a national security assessment of the compound. In doing so, the FBI could help guide the department of state in its decision to close the complex or revoke the diplomatic status of its residents, which it has the authority to do.
“It is wrong for the FBI to claim, as it has done in the past, that it has no jurisdiction,” the congressman said. “The Foreign Missions Act specifically mentions the Director of the FBI and contemplates a critical role for the FBI in assessing the national security risks of foreign missions.”
Torres — who will most likely represent the newly drawn district 15 next year — cited several stories that reported members of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service and military intelligence agency reside at the compound.
“When it comes to the foreign mission in the Bronx, the FBI has been missing in action,” he said. “The time has come for the bureau to break its silence and reveal the truth about the national security risk posed by the Russian Diplomatic Compound in the Bronx.”
The complex first came on the congressman’s radar after he received a wave of complaints from neighbors feeling as if they have been kept out of the loop on what’s really transpiring inside the gated building. And according to a New York Post article, some in the community already suspect that the FBI operates a house across the street that’s used to keep tabs on those within.
Torres also introduced legislation earlier this year to squeeze the Russian economy thereby putting economic pressure on president Vladimir Putin to pull out Ukraine. His bill, the Reveal Risky Business in Russia Act, would require US corporations to disclose all their business dealings in Russia. If passed into law, any publicly traded company would have to report such business to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“And if you fail to make the disclosures required under federal law, you could be held liable civilly,” Torres said at the conference. Torres introduced the legislation after Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy beseeched American companies to pull out of Russia.
The FBI did not immediately respond to a request asking whether it would launch a security assessment of the building.