From the story she told me originally, suing (or trying to sue) the NYPD and her landlord made sense. She's been beaten, arrested unjustly, abused, threatened, raped and had her door kicked in. But beyond those things, I still wasn't sure why she had a beef with the Mayor or the FBI. So I asked.
Ms. Osipova took a deep breath, sat up straighter in her chair, and began to explain. "The people in the SRO are disappearing," she whispered. "What happens with the people who disappear? Nobody knows, nobody cares."
The older tenants in her building are vanishing, and she thinks she knows what's behind it. "There was a story in the paper about why people become homeless. None of them say they were in SROs [beforehand]. There's a lot of furniture broken, a lot of personal things in the garbage. When people leave, they usually take their things with them."
Ms. Osipova told me that the SRO she lives in has been converted into a hotel for wealthy European tourists. As tenants vacate their low-rent apartments, their rooms are being converted into high-priced hotel accommodations.
"Why doesn't the Mayor care that the cheap rooms for the poor are becoming so rare?" she asked me. Then she answered her own question. "The higher the rents, the higher the tax. There's much more money in the pocket of the Mayor."
In her suit, as a result, she's demanding that the Mayor investigate what's being done by the landlords of these converted SROs. But what about the FBI? This is where things become a bit murkier.
"One day," Ms. Osipova told me, "I was walking along the street. Suddenly the sole from one of my old shoes?comfortable old shoes?fell off. Very soon another sole fell off. So I had soleless shoes for my feet! This has never happened to me before in my life. I think they [FBI agents] were looking inside. There was a crevice in the sole. They were looking in there, and they took it apart and they put it back together. They had been into my apartment."
Ms. Osipova, a writer and avid reader, knew that the FBI had investigated writers in the past. In fact, a hefty book?Natalie Robins' Alien Ink?had been written some years earlier about the Bureau's harassment campaign against hundreds of well-known American authors. It's a point she's going to make in the amended legal complaint she's working on right now. Still, though, she wasn't exactly sure what was going on, or why, until she started to put the pieces together.
"They certainly know when I go out. I meet with people who want to talk with me. I see the man who raped me. I meet him in the street. He always knows where I am going and what I am saying, because he always wants to know if I am complaining about him. He meets me in the elevator and he threatens me. How does he know that I'm going out on a certain day? He waits for me in the street. They can know what you type on your computer from the outside. With technology."
As she became aware that something strange was going on around her, the reasons for it began to make themselves clear. At first she thought perhaps the FBI?which she claims trains cadets by having them "practice spy" on innocent civilians in Virginia?had brought the technique north, to spy?again, just for practice?on the residents of her SRO. She soon realized, however, that what was going on was much more sinister.
"Why me?" she asked, and again she answered her own question. "I'm a writer. I'm Russian. I am interested in the militia and those people who try to fight. So I'm suspect. Sometimes when I come home, I will see something that is out of place. Recently, I found my computer book under the wardrobe. I always keep it out, so how did it end up under the wardrobe?"
Suddenly her tone changed, and her voice dropped, as if she had something she was afraid to divulge. "I have something else," she told me. "Some hard evidence?"
Some time back, she went to a doctor. "They checked my infections," she said. "They took sonograms. And they couldn't understand what is in my vagina or in my uterus. They tried to push their fingers in, but they could not?there was something there." The doctors couldn't figure out what it was. and Ms. Osipova couldn't explain how it got there.
"They [FBI agents] drugged me, they took me out of the room to the doctor's office. I felt when they were driving me. You know when you are under anesthesia, your body still has some feelings, but the brain is out. So when I was raped, I felt it, but I did not know. When I came to I had this strong feeling. I began to investigate how they got into my room. I was carted away and they put this thing in me. So what is it? They put it into animals and they put it into people, under the skin, so they will always be able to find out where the person or animal is. Navigation, a tracking device. I thought probably they are watching where I was going." And that's how strangers always knew when to meet her on the street, and always seemed to know exactly where she was going.
They inserted the device where they did, she says, because if they were to put it under the skin, as they normally do, it would leave a very noticeable scar. And it's just this sort of practice on the part of the FBI, Osipova said, that has led to the explosion of "alien abduction" stories. It's an argument that's been made for some time, in at least a half-dozen books.
"[Abductees] have scars. They lose track of time. It could be done by people who live here." All you need, she says, is a movie projector and an image of an alien to flash on the wall. Then just go about your business with the drugs and the implants. "They could not do this to me because I would notice immediately and I'm not a stupid person, not stupid enough to believe in aliens."
Discovering the implant, however, means that she's still in terrible, terrible danger. "I read how a woman was killed [when] poison was put into her pacemaker. You could put some poison into something, put it into the vagina, and it would look like a natural death. Nobody would find anything. Especially if you're old. They wouldn't even investigate. So I don't know what that is inside."
(As it happens, my interview with Ms. Osipova took place two days after she was released from the hospital, where she had to be rushed with a serious bladder infection.)
Nonna Osipova is not a stupid woman. She's bright and very articulate. She's well-read and speaks nearly fluent English. Strange thing is, she's not the first such case I've run into. The "vaginal tracking device" story is much more common than you might imagine (depending, of course, on the kind of books you read). It's common enough, in fact, that it can sometimes make you stop and say "hmmmmm."
Attempts to contact the FBI on this matter were, of course, pointless.