Russian Whirlwind with a Good Nose

The ease with which Anna Kuschtschenko exposed herself must have left old-school spies red-faced.

Anna Kuschtschenko enjoyed living in New York. She didn’t seem to mind the fast tempo of the city. On the contrary, an acquaintance of hers doesn’t think he could imagine this whirlwind being able to find any time for spying. “She worked around the clock,” says Artur Welf, a Russian journalist. This is always how it is with such stories: Fiction and fact are interwoven. While the tabloids write of a man-eater, men in nightclubs are turning their heads and business magazine Forbes is highlighting the Russian’s real estate ambitions.

Neighbors and business partners in Manhattan knew her as Anna Chapman. She married British psychology student Alex Chapman in 2002. The marriage fell apart soon after. Anna had stated in the past that she didn’t like Americans, yet later she praised how America really is a free country. It’s incredibly easy to meet successful people, unlike in Moscow where you have to belong to high society from the start.

Every Wednesday the pretty diplomat’s daughter sat down in a café, established a connection to her private network on her laptop and waited for her head operative, so she could beam him encoded information. That the 28-year old wasn’t really revealing any secrets can be assumed from the last FBI memo.

An undercover police officer, who passed himself off as a man from the Russian consulate, arranged a meeting with the beauty. Kuschtschenko accepted a fake passport from him and gave him her notebook to repair. Someone who behaves that naïvely can only be innocent, says her lawyer. In any case, her globetrotting days are over for now.

The “Mata Hari from Moscow,” as the Yellow Press calls her, spent a part of her childhood in Nairobi, Kenya, where her father worked for the Russian consulate. After studying economics in Moscow she moved to London, was hired by a hedge fund, worked briefly at a bank and started a real estate website. She had been living in Manhattan for three years — and seemed to suspect something shortly before it was all over. While purchasing a mobile phone only a few hours prior to being arrested, she gave the address as “99 Fake Street.”

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