Spies expected in Russia on Friday: source
The Russian spies ordered expelled from the United States in the most dramatic spy swap since the height of the Cold War are expected to return to Russia on Friday, a Russian source said.
A Russian official familiar with the situation and speaking on condition of anonymity told AFP the Kremlin agents were expected to arrive in Russia on Friday. The official declined to offer further details.
President Dmitry Medvedev's spokeswoman, Natalia Timakova, declined comment to AFP, referring all questions to the foreign ministry.
A foreign ministry spokeswoman declined to comment, saying the ministry would put out a statement shortly.
Russia's Channel 1 broadcast footage showing the Russian spies boarding a plane in an unspecified US location. The television channel said the plane was to leave for Russia.
Local television NY1 in New York reported earlier in the day that the 10 spies were deported from the United States late Thursday. There was no confirmation from Russian officials over where and when they would arrive.
The spies included Russian Anna Chapman, whose nude pictures and racy romances have fascinated tabloids around the world, and Peruvian-American journalist Vicky Pelaez, who admitted to carrying a letter written in invisible ink.
"I hope that I will soon be able to see and embrace my daughter," Anna Chapman's mother Irina Kushchenko told the lifenews.ru news website.
"Anna has done nothing bad and whatever happened, whatever was said, she will soon be next to us," she added.
The deal was the most sensational spy swap since the height of the Cold War. In exchange, Russia agreed to release four people convicted of spying for Western countries.
A high-ranking Kremlin source told Russian news agencies the deal had been made possible because of a "high level of trust" between the presidents of the two countries.
"This has been possible because of a new spirit in Russian-American relations, a high level of mutual understanding and the trust between the presidents of the two countries which nobody will be able to upset," the source said.
© 2010 AFP