How Does Spy Anna Chapman Keep Failing Upwards?

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Anna Chapman, the most famous and most frequently nude of the 10 Russian spies caught in the U.S. this summer, has somehow managed to rise ever higher since returning to Moscow. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin promised the failed spies would have "bright and interesting futures" back home, and it looks like he's followed through for the real-life Bond girl: Chapman has been named to the "public council" of the Molodaya Gvardiya, a fanatically pro-Putin youth group with roots in the Soviet Komsomol. She'll also be naked in Playboy next month, a move that, in Russia at least, is a career-killer no more.

"Appearing nude in Playboy is enough to sabotage the political aspirations of most public figures. But not for Russian spy Anna Chapman," AOL's Lauren Frayer writes, noting that other photos of Chapman's anatomy appeared in a British tabloid in July--when her ex-husband spilled details of their sex life--plus she voluntarily posed for Russian Maxim in October. "But none of this seems to have hurt Chapman's career--quite the contrary, in fact." On top of the Putin youth group gig, Chapman was also appointed an adviser to the president of FondServisBank, a Russian bank that works with the country's aerospace industry.

That "Chapman and her fellow former spies have become political celebrities in Russia," Frayer says, reveals "something different about the relationship between celebrity and politics in Russia." As Alex Nice, a Russia expert at the British think tank Chatham House, explains, "In America we've seen instances of celebrities becoming politicians, but ordinarily in a spy situation, one would expect authorities to keep it all reasonably quiet, or somewhat of an embarrassment... But instead she's being paraded, and it suggests a certain attitude among Russian elites that's not quiet compatible with the U.S." That the spies are being celebrated as heroes, Nice says, shows Russia still has a pretty antagonistic attitude toward the West.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.