CORRECTED: 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 described by the media as a flame-haired femme fatale is "no Mata Hari" but a normal young woman, her mother said Wednesday.

Anna Chapman, who kept the name of her British ex-husband, is fiercely independent but did not stand out as above average, 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 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."

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.

© 2010 AFP

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