Marina Sologub (39), an Irish citizen and a Kazakhstan-born ethnic Russian, is being forced to leave Australia due to suspicions that she could be a Russian spy. The Irish citizen, who grew up in Glanmire, Cork, is just one of a number of Russians or those with links to Russia who have had their visas canceled by Australia.
Sologub moved from the Republic of Ireland to Australia in 2020 on a "distinguished talent visa." She was working in the space industry in Australia, the same sector she had built a career in, including links to the Irish defense industry, while living in Ireland.
While in Ireland, she worked with the National Space Centre (NSC) in Cork and helped set up the Irish Space Industry Group (ISIG) in 2014, with the aim of promoting the Irish space sector and allowing companies to cooperate on various projects.
The ISIG's 34 members include companies with connections to the space sector and with subsidiaries in Ireland, such as major US defense contractors including Moog involved in developing drones and weapons systems, Curtiss-Wright, which makes military aircraft components and Klas Telecom a communications company.
The Group also includes the Irish telecommunications company, Eir, and other Irish-founded technology companies which are involved in the manufacture of advanced technology and communications systems. These links were confirmed, by the Irish Times via several sources. The ISIG according to its website, among other things, aims to initiate joint space business development opportunities in global space markets through “clustering”.
Australia's National Security Committee is investigating Sologub's activities during her employment. As yet, no information has emerged to indicate that Sologub had access to companies' sensitive information.
Ireland's Tanaiste (Deputy Leader) and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Michéal Martin told RTE Radio 1 "The Australian government, it’s a matter for them in terms of their security situation, and they don’t necessarily contact us in respect of security concerns that they have or in respect of deportations that they make as a result of security concerns.”
During her career in Ireland, she also worked as the assistant to Bernard Allen, a former Fine Gael TD, and for Willie Penrose, a former Labour Party TD. During the course of this Sologub's investigation, it has also emerged that there is no security vetting for people hired by Ireland's parliamentary politicians or Senators.
Both Allen and Penrose have expressed their surprise at the ongoing investigation.
Allen, former minister for sport and Cork North Central Fine Gael TD, told the Times Sologub worked with him in his Dáil (Parliament / Leinster House) office from March to Aug 2010 while studying for a Bachelor in Science in Government and Politics in University College Cork. The Australian press report that according to her CV she completed a Masters in Government, in UCC, in 2012.
Penrose, the Echo Live reports, disputes Sologub's claims that she worked as his personal assistant. He said she gained work experience in his County Westmeath constituency office but she was never a paid employee.
An Garda (Irish police) also said Sologub's case is being reviewed internally to gather information on her Australian visa being canceled.
Sologub has not been convicted of any crime and no charges have been brought against her in Australia.
Over recent months the Australian government has been forcing Russians, or people with links to the country, to leave by canceling their visas. They have done so as they believe that directly or indirectly they pose a security risk to Australia.
Most recently Sologub had been working as a procurement adviser for the City of Marion, in the suburbs of Adelaide. In a statement issued to the Sydney Morning Herald, the City of Marion said that Sologub had advised them that her visa has been canceled. Chief Executive Ben Keen told the paper that Sologub was a contractor employed by an agency.
Bernard Allen, the Cork politician Sologub worked with for the summer of 2010, told Echo Live he hopes she is given "due process".
Allen said “She was pleasant and competent in any work she was given, which was fairly routine work as she was inexperienced at the time. She was one of a lot of interns that came through the system.
“She was married with a family in Glanmire at the time. She was a mature student,” he said.
“I hope she is allowed due process, that’s all. She’s been found guilty of nothing. Homeland security, be it in Australia or the United States, they have their priorities, but people need to get due process also.”
The fact that Sologub, who is now being investigated as a national security threat, worked among national politicians at Leinster House, has led to a discussion on Ireland's national security.
Political security expert Ben Tonra, professor at UCD School of Politics said the fact that Sologub worked closely with Irish politicians was “emblematic of [Ireland's] long-standing failure to take national security seriously.”
He told the Irish Examiner, “The absence of any system for national security clearance has allegedly been on the agenda of several governments now, thus far to no avail.”