One day in August 2016, Viktoria Nasyrova decided to visit Olga Tsvyk in her home in Forest Hills, Queens. The two women resemble each other, somewhat. They’re both of Russian extraction, with olive skin and black hair. They're a few years apart—Nasyrova is now 42, and Tsvyk is 35—but they could’ve been sisters. Twins, even.
Nasyrova allegedly saw this passing resemblance as an opportunity to steal Tsvyk's identity. So the Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn resident arrived at the alleged victim’s home in Queens bearing the gift of some plain cheesecake. A kind culinary gesture on its surface that Nasyrova had, allegedly, cooked to kill Tsvyk.
"Brooklyn woman busted for poisoning her friend’s cheesecake in bid to steal her identity,” reads what may be the most surreal New York Daily News headline I’ve read in my adult life. Nasyrova, who’s been described in some corners as a “Russian temptress” who enjoyed a rather plush existence filled with fur and jewelry, was, according to the Daily News, dished out a 10-count indictment on Tuesday by a grand jury in Queens. Some of these charges she faces include attempted murder, burglary, assault, and reckless endangerment.
A key ingredient within the cheesecake Nasyrova gave to Tsvyk on that fateful day was allegedly a Russian tranquilizer known as phenazapam, which can be lethal upon ingestion. Tsvyk began feeling faint and dizzy moments after biting into the cake, and she promptly passed out. The next day, a concerned friend came upon Tsvyk’s body in a scene that appeared as if it had been doctored to resemble a suicide. Tsvyk's lingerie-clad body lay in a bed littered with pills.
Tests conducted by the Department of Homeland Security later determined that the cheesecake and pills contained phenazapam. Tsvyk was taken to the hospital. Once she came to, she recalled that the last image she remembered was the sight of Nasyrova’s face hovering over her. When she returned home from the hospital, she would find that some of her most vital possessions—passport, employment authorization card, a gold ring, wads of cash—were nowhere to be found.
These items were only recovered when authorities finally caught up with Nasyrova, now sitting in jail on Rikers Island (where, as the Daily News reported in February, she was allegedly beaten so brutally by fellow inmates that she was blinded), in March 2017.
Nasyrova’s apparent misdeeds didn’t begin with her alleged attempt to murder her doppelgänger with cheesecake. She's got a rap sheet so long that it's almost dizzying: Nasyrova has been accused of brutally murdering a 54-year-old woman in Russia and, I shit you not, seducing the lead detective of the case so she could walk away a free woman. Nasyrova's also been suspected, according to a New York Post report from last March, of murdering the two owners of an apartment in Russia where she once resided, drugging and frauding men she met through dating sites, shoplifting, and forging fake diplomas and certificates.
“This is a bizarre and twisted crime that could have resulted in the death of a Queens woman, whose only fault was that she shared similar features with the defendant,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown told Pix11 on Wednesday. “Offering a gift of a cheesecake, the defendant is alleged to have laced the dessert with a Russian drug and presented it to the unsuspecting victim.”
Brown did not respond to immediate request for further comment from MUNCHIES on Thursday. Neither Nasyrova's attorney nor Tsvyk could not be reached for comment, though the former declined to comment on the case to the Associated Press on Wednesday. Nasyrova is due to court on May 25, and she faces up to 25 years in prison for her alleged crimes.
"I know this young woman," she insisted to CBS last October when asked about whether she'd attempted to murder Tsyvk with some deadly dessert. "I did not force her to eat it."