The Upshot

Spy ring's 'femme fatale' was devoted to her KGB dad

The Upshot

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Anna Chapman, the 28-year-old flame-haired high-society party girl accused of being one of 11 Russian deep cover spies operating in the United States, is the daughter of a former KGB agent, according to the Daily Telegraph. Chapman's ex-husband Alex Chapman, a British psychology student, told the paper that "her father had been high up in the ranks of the KGB" and was "an agent in 'old Russia.' "

Anna Kushchenko married Chapman in 2002, five months after the couple met in a London club, and kept her ex-husband's name after they divorced four years later. She is a British citizen, and the Telegraph says the British counterintelligence service MI5 is investigating whether she was operating as a spy during her time there.

Alex Chapman told the paper that he's not surprised to learn that his ex-wife was wrapped up in espionage. He describes their courtship and marriage as something like a Russian-British version of "Meet the Parents," with a stern KGB vet standing in for Robert DeNiro's retired CIA agent. He knew her father, Vasily Kushchenko, as a "scary" Russian diplomat in Zimbabwe who "always seemed to have a lot more security than the other diplomats" and "didn't trust anyone." His wife told him that Vasily had previously been a high-ranking KGB agent in the Soviet Union, and she was completely devoted to him: “Her father controlled everything in her life, and I felt she would have done anything for her dad."

Anna Chapman worked at a string of high-paying bank jobs during her time in England, including stints at Barclay's and Navigator Asset Management, a hedge fund. British investigators are looking into whether she handled the accounts of any prominent citizens. Alex Chapman told the Telegraph that he kept in touch with her after the divorce, and that even though she'd professed hatred for Americans, she became eager to move there in 2007 after meeting "a rich American man."

While Chapman's family ties appear to run deep, one of her co-conspirators has told American investigators that he would throw his son under a bus for Mother Russia. Juan Lazaro, a retired political science professor at Barucj College who fathered a son with accused spy Vicky Pelaez, allegedly confessed to his interrogators that he was a Russian agent, telling them that his loyalty to his country outweighed his love for his son. From the New York Daily News:

In his "lengthy postarrest statement," Lazaro also admitted that his wife, Peruvian El Diario columnist Vicky Pelaez, traveled to Peru to deliver Lazaro's invisible ink letters to "the Service" - the Russian SVR, which used to be called the KGB, prosecutors said.

Lazaro told prosecutors he loved the 17-year-old son he had with Pelaez, but "he would not violate his loyalty to the Service, even for his son."

Lazaro reportedly admitted that he wasn't from Uruguay, as he had claimed to be for years, and that Juan Lazaro wasn't his real name. But he refused to give up his actual identity.

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