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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Who is Anna Vasil’yevna Kushchyenko?

Who is Anna Vasil’yevna Kushchyenko? She is know as Anna Vasil’yevna Chapman currently under suspicion of being a Russian national, who while living in New York. Chapman while living in the United States was arrested along with nine others on 27 June 2010, on suspicion of working for the Illegals Program spy ring under the Russian Federation's external intelligence agency, the SVR (Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki).[2][5] Chapman pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government without notifying theU.S. Attorney General, and was deported back to Russia on 8 July 2010, as part of a prisoner swap.

  Biography

Chapman was 23 February 1982 Anna Vasil’yevna Kushchyenko in Volgograd, according to U.S. authorities,[6] and her father was employed in the Russian embassy in Nairobi, Kenya.[7]According to Chapman's British ex-husband, her father, Vasily Kushchenko, was also a seniorKGB official, although this is unsubstantiated.[8]

London: 2001–2006

Chapman moved to London in 2000/1, working at NetJets, Barclays Bank and allegedly at a few other companies for brief periods.[9]

She met Alex Chapman at a London Docklands rave party in 2001 and they married shortly thereafter in Moscow;[4] as a result she gained dual Russian-British citizenship, and a British passport.[10] After Anna was arrested in New York, Alex engaged media publicist Max Clifford, and sold his story to The Daily Telegraph newspaper.[4][11][12]

New York: 2006–2010

She took up residence at 20 Exchange Place, one block from Wall Street in Manhattan.[13][14]Alex has stated that Anna told him the enterprise was continually in the red for the first couple of years, and then suddenly in 2009, she had as many as 50 employees and a successful business.[4] Her LinkedIn social networking site profile identified her as CEO of PropertyFinder LLC, a website selling real estate internationally.[14][15]

She is reported to have been dating Michel Bittan, a prominent New York restaurant owner.[16] She later described her time in the US with the Charles Dickens quote, "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times".[17][18]

Russia: 2010–present

Late December 2010 Chapman was appointed to the public council of Young Guard of United Russia.[19][20] According to the organization she "will be engaged in educating young people".[21][22]

On 21 January 2011, Chapman began hosting a weekly TV show in Russia called Secrets of the World for REN (TV channel).[23][24][25][26][27]

Illegals Program and arrest

Chapman is one of only two of the Illegals Program Russians arrested in June 2010 who did not use an assumed name.[28]

Arrest

Officials claimed Chapman worked with a network of others, until an undercover FBI agent attempted to draw her into a trap at a Manhattancoffee shop.[29] The FBI agent offered Chapman a fake passport at Starbucks, with the instructions to forward it to another spy. He asked, "are you ready for this step?", to which Chapman unequivocally replied, "Of course." She accepted the passport.[30][31] However, after making a series of phone calls to her father, Vasily Kushchenko, in Moscow, Chapman ended up heeding her father's advice and handed the passport in at a local police station, but was arrested shortly after.[31][32]

International exchange

After being formally charged, Chapman and nine other detainees became part of a spy swap deal between the US and Russia, the biggest of its kind since 1986.[33] The 10 Russian agents returned to Russia via a chartered jet that landed at Vienna International Airport, where the swap occurred on the morning of 8 July.[3] The Russian jet returned to Moscow's Domodedovo airport, where after landing the 10 spies were kept away from local and international press.

Revocation of UK citizenship

According to a statement from her US lawyer Robert Baum and media reports, Chapman wished to move to the UK.[34] As a result, theHome Office investigated the use of special powers by the British Home Secretary to deprive Chapman of her British citizenship,[35][36] only used against six people since their introduction in 2002, in part to make it easier to deport radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al Masri.[10] The Home Office issued legal papers revoking her citizenship on 13 July 2010.[1] Steps are also being taken to exclude Chapman, meaning she could not travel to the UK.[10] After her deportation to Russia, Baum reiterated that his client had wished to stay in the US; he also said that she was "particularly upset" by the revocation of her UK citizenship and exclusion from the country.[37][38]

Media coverage and popular reaction

After her arrest by the FBI for her involvement with the Illegals Program, Chapman gained celebrity status. Photos of Chapman taken from her Facebook profile appeared on the web, and several videos of her were uploaded to YouTube.[39]

Magazines and blogs detailed her fashion style and dress sense, while tabloids displayed her action figure dolls.[11][40][41][42] Chapman was described by local media in New York as a regular of exclusive bars and restaurants.[40][41][43] US Vice-President Joe Biden, when jokingly asked by Jay Leno on NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, "Do we have any spies that hot?", replied in a mock serious tone, "Let me be clear. It was not my idea to send her back."[44]

In October 2010, Chapman posed on the cover of Russian version of Maxim magazine in Agent Provocateur lingerie. The magazine also included Chapman in its list of Russia's 100 sexiest women.[45][46]

According to the news agency Interfax, effective 1 October 2010 Chapman is employed as an adviser on investment and innovation issues to the President of FundserviceBank, a Moscow bank that handles payments on behalf of state- and private-sector enterprises in the Russian aerospace industry.[47]


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