Anna Chapman, June 2010
|Born||Anna Vasil’yevna Kushchyenko
23 February 1982
Volgograd, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
|Other names||Anna Kushchenko
|Occupation||Entrepreneur, television host, and agent of the Russian Federation|
|Known for||Involvement with Russian Illegals Program|
|Conspiracy to act as an unlawful agent of a foreign government|
|Spouse(s)||Alex Chapman (m. 2002–2006; divorced)|
Anna Vasil'yevna Chapman (Russian: А́нна Васи́льевна Ча́пман; born Anna Vasil’yevna Kushchyenko Russian: А́нна Васи́льевна Кущенко; 23 February 1982) is a Russian national who was residing in New York City when she 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). Chapman pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government without notifying the U.S. Attorney General, and departed to Russia on 8 July 2010, as part of a prisoner swap.
Chapman was born Anna Vasil’yevna Kushchyenko in Volgograd, according to U.S. authorities, and her father was employed in the Soviet embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. According to Chapman's British ex-husband Alex Chapman, her father, Vasily Kushchenko, was a senior KGB official, although this is unsubstantiated. According to her husband, Anna Chapman Kushchyenko earned a master's degree in economics with first class honours from Moscow University. According to other sources she got her degree from Peoples' Friendship University of Russia.
New York: 2009–2010
She took up residence at 20 Exchange Place, one block from Wall Street in Manhattan. Her LinkedIn social networking site profile identified her as CEO of PropertyFinder LLC, a website selling real estate internationally. Alex has stated that Anna told him the enterprise was continually in debt for the first couple of years, and then suddenly in 2009, she had as many as 50 employees and a successful business.
She is reported to have been dating Michel Bittan, a prominent New York restaurant owner. She later described her time in the United States with the Charles Dickens quote, "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times".
She testified to the closed trial in absentia of Col. Alexander Poteyev that took place in Moscow in May and June 2011. Chapman testified that it was only Poteyev who could have provided the U.S. authorities with the information that led to her arrest in 2010; she also alleged that she was arrested shortly after an undercover U.S. agent contacted her using a code that only Poteyev and her personal handler could know.
Chapman wrote a column for Komsomolskaya Pravda. In October 2011 she was accused of plagiarizing material on Alexander Pushkin from a book by Kremlin spin-doctor Oleg Matveychev. The Guardian reported that this incident added to a general negative trend toward her in certain sections of Russian society, saying that in September 2011, she had been "heckled during a speech on leadership at a St. Petersburg University". Students had, it said, displayed signs stating: "Chapman, get out of the university!" and "The Kremlin and the porn studio are in the other direction!"
Chapman's foundation supported the second International Сonference "The Genetics of Aging and Longevity" in Moscow, where the top world scientists on aging present their speeches, including researchers who developed mice which lived more than twice as long as regular mice, and extended the lives of nematodes more than 10 times, study animals that do not age and develop innovative anti-aging drugs.
In 2012 it was reported that Chapman almost caught a senior member of U.S. President Barack Obama's cabinet in a honeytrap operation; this was said to be a primary motive behind the move to round up the ten-person spy ring in which she was a member. The plan would have involved Chapman seducing her target before extracting information from him or her.
Reports surfaced in 2014 alleging that Chapman tried to seduce whistleblower Edward Snowden on orders from the Kremlin, according to a defector Boris Karpichkov, a former KGB agent.
Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh: 2013–present
Chapman had been sighted in the breakaway region of Nagorno Karabakh in August 2013. She arrived with a group of Russian officials to discuss the view of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic on the chances for resolving their conflict with Azerbaijan over the territory, as well as to also reportedly work on her TV show series, Mysteries of the World. Her visit caused an outcry in Azerbaijan, causing the country's foreign ministry to declare that Chapman and the other Russian visitors will be regarded as personae-non-gratae in Azerbaijan.
Chapman later visited Tsitsernakaberd, a memorial dedicated to the victims of the Armenian Genocide, and stated in an interview that her visit to Armenia taught her the importance of family relationships and that her best friends are Armenians. She was impressed by the family values in Armenian society that Russian society lacks and said she is learning a lot from Armenia.
Illegals Program and arrest
Officials claimed Chapman worked with a network of others, until an undercover FBI agent attempted to draw her into a trap at a Manhattan coffee shop. 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. 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. She was arrested shortly after.
After being formally charged, Chapman and nine other detainees became part of a spy swap deal between the United States and Russia, the biggest of its kind since 1986. The ten 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 2010. The Russian jet returned to Moscow's Domodedovo airport, where after landing the ten spies were kept away from local and international press.
Revocation of UK citizenship
According to a statement from her U.S. lawyer Robert Baum and media reports, Chapman had wished to move to the UK. As a result, the Home Office exercised the special powers by the British Home Secretary to deprive Chapman of her British citizenship under section 40 of the British Nationality Act 1981, introduced as part of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 and Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 and only used against a dozen people since its introduction. The Home Office issued legal papers revoking her citizenship on 13 July 2010. Steps are also being taken to exclude Chapman, meaning she could not travel to the UK. After her departure to Russia, Baum reiterated that his client had wished to stay in the UK; he also said that she was "particularly upset" by the revocation of her UK citizenship and exclusion from the country.
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. Her affiliation with the Russian Federation led at least one media outlet to refer to her as "the red under the bed."
Magazines and blogs detailed her fashion style and dress sense, while tabloids displayed her action figure dolls. Chapman was described by local media in New York as a regular of exclusive bars and restaurants. U.S. 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".
According to the news agency Interfax, effective 1 October 2010, Chapman was at that time 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.
In April 2011, Chapman was on the runway as a catwalk model for Moscow Fashion Week at the Shiyan & Rudkovskaya show. In June 2012, Chapman was again modelling on the runway for Antalya at the Dosso Dossi.
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Elle avait jeté son dévolu sur la tour résidentielle la plus haute de Manhattan. Le 20 Exchange Place. Cinquante-neuf étages sur 226 mètres de haut, construits en 1931 pour abriter le siège de la City Bank-Farmers Trust Company, ancêtre de Citigroup. Récemment reconverti en appartements, ce bijou d’Art déco a servi de décor à une scène de « Wall Street », le film d’Oliver Stone. Son hall d’entrée, aux plafonds voûtés recouverts de fresques, ressemble à la nef vertigineuse d’une cathédrale façon Gotham City. Situé en plein quartier financier de New York, l’endroit est idéal pour qui veut conquérir l’Amérique.
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- "To Russia With Plea", Smoking Gun. – refers to United States v. Anna Chapman, no. 10 Cr. 598, (S.D.N.Y 8 July 2010)
- US vs Anna Chapman Complaint (Archive)