Born in Russia in 1982, Anna Chapman was living in New York City when she made headlines in June 2010. Along with nine others, she was arrested on suspicion of working as a spy for the Russian government. Chapman plead guilty, and was deported back to Russia in July 2010, in the biggest spy swap deal since 1986. Her good looks made Chapman the focus of the media spotlight, and upon returning to Russia she posed for a men’s magazine and hosted a TV show.
Born Anya Kushchenko on February 23, 1982, in Volgograd, Russia. In June 2010, Anna Chapman made headlines for her role in a Russian spy ring. She and nine others were arrested on conspiracy charges in the United States. With her good looks, flirtatious nature, and sexy clothes, Chapman soon became an international sensation as a “Femme Fatale” of the spy world.
Espionage may have been a family business. Vasily Kushchenko, Chapman’s father, worked as a Russian diplomat and, according to one report, may also served as a spy. Chapman, however, started out in a different field, studying economics at Moscow University. During a holiday trip to London, she met Alex Chapman. The pair married in 2002 and spent time living in Russia and England. While in England, Chapman worked for a number of companies, including Barclay’s Bank. She and her husband divorced in 2006.
Chapman then returned to Russia for a time before moving to the United States. She soon ingratiated herself into New York City’s business and nightclub circles. Chapman ran her own real estate company, PropertyFinder Ltd., in Manhattan. In the evenings, she frequented the city’s hottest restaurants and clubs. These activities served as her cover as she reportedly worked on her secret mission. She and the other Russian operatives were part of a network focused on gathering sensitive information. The spies were meant to develop “ties in policymaking circles” and send reports back to Russia, according to court documents.
It is unclear, however, what secrets Chapman had been able to uncover. In June 2010, she was arrested shortly after a meeting with a FBI agent who pretended to be a Russian official. Some friends of Chapman were surprised by the news, calling the red-haired spy “sweet.” Others called her a seductress. Model Dennis Hirdt told Details magazine said that Chapman was “an expert at using her femininity to get information.”
Chapman and her fellow spies only stayed in custody for a brief period, however. On July 8, 2010, they were sent back to Russia in a spy exchange deal between the United States and Russia. Her fellow Russians welcomed Chapman home, and she even received a medal for her work from the government. She was later appointed to a position within the Young Guard of the United Russia party and has visited with the party’s leader and the country’s prime minister Vladimir Putin.
While most of the other spies were granted new identities and new lives, Chapman has continued to build on her international notoriety. Playing up her sexy spy image, Chapman posed in lingerie on the cover of the Russian edition of Maxim magazine that October.
She also became an adviser to the head of FundserviceBank, a Moscow financial institution. While she has turned down movie roles, she has her own weekly television show called Mysteries of the World with Anna Chapman. Chapman has also been working in the country’s venture capital industry, trying to raise funds for Russia’s technology sector.
In June 2011, Chapman testified in the trial of Colonel Alexander Poteyev, the man believed to have tipped off the United States about the spy ring. He was guilty of high treason and desertion in a military court, but he was convicted in absentia, having already fled the country. Around this time, Chapman took on another new role. She became the editor of Venture Business News magazine.