Alleged Russian spy 'no Mata Hari': mother

7th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

The Russian girl accused by the United States of acting as a Kremlin agent and branded by the media as a flame-haired femme fatale is "no Mata Hari" but an average young woman, her mother said Wednesday.

Anna Chapman, who kept the name of her British ex-husband, is fiercely independent and driven but never stood out as above average among her peers, her mother Irina Kushchenko told the Russian tabloid daily Tvoi Den.

"I don't think Anna is a Mata Hari. She had the normal life of a 28-year-old woman," Kushchenko said, referring to the Dutch exotic dancer executed by the French for espionage during World War One.

"As an ex-teacher, I can say she never quite shined among her peers. But she was good, close to the top of her class."

Anna Chapman's ex-husband Alex has alleged in interviews with the British press that she was recruited by her father, who he said posed as a Russian diplomat but was in fact a KGB agent.

With her parents often abroad on diplomatic postings, Chapman learned at an early age to fend for herself and hide her problems to deal with on her own while living with her ailing grandparents, Kushchenko said.

"Anna was always an open, happy child. She deeply loved her grandmother and grandfather and tried to hide from them whatever negative things were happening in her life," she said.

"Life was hard work for her.... She never counted on us. She always tried to achieve everything on her own," Kushchenko said. "She dealt with all her problems alone."

Chapman is among 11 suspected "deep-cover" agents suspected of trying to infiltrate US policymaking circles and report back to Moscow in a Cold War-style spy case that threatens to strain thawing ties between the countries.

Facing troubles with her online real estate business after the financial crisis, Chapman moved to New York to seek her fortune, Kushchenko said.

"She said often that there was cheap real estate in America, that it was Klondike-like," Kushchenko said, speaking of the frenzied gold-rush migration to the northwestern United States and Canada in the late 19th century.

"She wanted to go there, check everything out and maybe open a business. After all, New York is the city of millionaires. But this, sadly, is what came of the attempt," her mother said.

© 2010 AFP

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