Russia spy Anna Chapman given pro-Kremlin youth role

Anna Chapman has maintained a high profile since returning to Russia

Anna Chapman, a Russian spy deported this year from the US, has been elected to a top role in the governing party's youth wing, the BBC has learned.

Ms Chapman was appointed to the public council of the Molodaya Gvardiya (Young Guard) which elected its leadership at a meeting in Moscow.

The glamorous former agent was at the centre of a spy ring uncovered by US authorities in June.

The 10 agents were sent back to Russia in return for four US spies.

Ms Chapman spent only a short time at the youth group's fourth congress on Wednesday, the BBC understands.

In an address to delegates broadcast on Russian TV, she called on people to adopt a more positive outlook on life.

"We must transform the future, starting with ourselves," she said.

"If every one of us was joyful, we could do something useful and new."

State honours

Also known as Anya Kushchenko, Anna Chapman is the daughter of a Russian diplomat.

She has made the headlines several times since returning to Russia, posing provocatively for a Russian men's magazine and turning up for the launch of a Soyuz spacecraft in Kazakhstan.

She has also met Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, as well as becoming a representative of a little-known asset management firm called FondsServiceBank, AFP reports.

The 10 Russian agents received state honours from President Dmitry Medvedev for their services at a ceremony at the Kremlin in October.

They were deported from the US after pleading guilty in New York to "conspiracy to act as an unregistered agent of a foreign country". More serious charges were dropped.

Prosecutors said the accused had posed as ordinary citizens, some living together as couples for years, and were ordered by Russia's External Intelligence Service (SVR) to infiltrate policy-making circles and collect information.

The Molodaya Gvardiya has its roots in the Soviet-era Komsomol youth group and was revived in the late 1990s under Mr Putin.

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