Russian ‘femme fatale’ spy becomes a cult hero

Russian ‘femme fatale’ spy becomes a cult hero

From photo shoots to song lyrics, former spy Anna Chapman is enjoying fame in her home country.

Anna Chapman, the 28-year-old redheaded Russian who was returned home as part of the largest spy swap with the United States since the Cold War, is evidently enjoying newfound celebrity status in her mother country. Her deal with U.S. authorities prohibits Chapman from selling her story, but the former spy is nonetheless enjoying cultlike fame, according to Matthias Schepp in Der Spiegel.

Chapman said in an interview with Schepp that she has to wear a hat and sunglasses to avoid being recognized in Moscow, where she is the object of adoring attention from fans:

Russia has been consumed by a Chapman cult since her return. The tabloids print page after page of love confessions by her previous boyfriends. … The local newspaper is sponsoring a contest for the most beautiful song written for Anna. The lyrics of the frontrunner are: “America is spying on everyone, and its enemies cannot sleep in peace. They’re looking for bin Laden, but what does our girl have to do with it? Hands off our Anna.”

Schepp speculates that her popularity could be due in part to the Russian public’s dislike of America:

Chapman has become a fetish for a resentful nation, embodying most Russians’ deep dislike of the United States. Most of all, the Anna cult helps to gloss over the severely battered reputation of Russia’s intelligence agencies, which are infected by the same ailments afflicting the entire country: nepotism, corruption and greed.

Chapman has posed in provocative photos for a men’s magazine (below) and says she will soon have a website up where people can contact her public relations team. Her hometown wants to make her an honorary citizen.

Local media reports are speculating that she may run for office next year. A successful campaign would make her a peer of sorts with another famous former spy, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. The prime minister greeted her personally when she was repatriated with the other spies involved in the swap. As we reported last month, Chapman’s father was also a KGB spook.

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