Sultry spy Anna Chapman, shipped back to Russia as part of a massive spy swap last summer, has turned her notoriety into a lucrative and varied career in her native land. In her newest venture, the flame-haired 28-year old, who has already appeared in various men's magazines and accepted a high position in the country's ruling political party, will host a regular weekly show on Russian television.
"Secrets of the World With Anna Chapman" will debut on REN-TV, a private channel, on Friday, Jan. 21, and air weekly, according to a spokeswoman for the channel. Wearing a little black dress, Chapman is prominently featured in a promotional shot on the station's web site, which also says "I reveal all mysteries, if you have the courage." According to the web site, the show will be the Friday installment of a series called "Reality," will explore hoaxes, mysteries, and "puzzling phenomena," and be hosted by "the most mysterious woman of our time."
Chapman, born Anya Kushchenko, and nine other members of a Russian spy ring were arrested in the U.S. this summer. She and her fellow spies all pleaded guilty to espionage in a Manhattan courthouse in July. They were immediately flown to Vienna to be exchanged for accused Western agents held by Russia in the largest U.S.-Russia spy swap since the Cold War.
Chapman has continued to attract attention since her repatriation. She was hired as an advisor to a Russian bank in October. At a ceremony in Moscow in December, Chapman was appointed a leader of the youth branch of Vladimir Putin's political party. Candid nude photos that an ex-boyfriend snapped of Chapman appeared in the January issue of Playboy. Other nude and semi-nude photos of Chapman appeared in the British and U.S. press last summer, and Chapman posed in leather and lingerie for other magazines.
Also on Wednesday, Russian media reported that another member of the spy ring had been hired by the government-run pipeline company Transneft as an advisor. A spokesman for Transneft, however, denied that anyone named Natalia Pereverzera was working for the firm. Perverzera lived in the U.S. under the name Patricia Mills before her capture.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev bestowed awards on Chapman and the nine other members of the ring in 2010. A Kremlin spokeswoman told reporters that "top state awards were presented" to a number of officers in the SVR – Russia's foreign intelligence service -- including the "intelligence agents who worked in the United States and returned to Russia in July."
Chapman has been named head of a new subdivision within the Young Guard, the youth branch of Putin's United Russia party.
The Young Guard is strongly pro-government, often holding street demonstrations, and was criticized in November after a Russian investigative journalist was badly beaten. Oleg Kashin, who had reported on opposition to a highway planned for a Moscow forest, was attacked on a Moscow street by unidentified assailants. Kashin had been criticized by the Young Guard on its web site. The Young Guard had published a picture of Kashin with the label "Will Be Punished," but condemned the attack on Kashin and denied any involvement.