Russian spy waves off cosmonauts

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Russian spy Anna Chapman made a rare public appearance on Friday to bid farewell to astronauts who blasted off from Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Dressed in a scarlet peacoat, Chapman made a brief appearance before the launch, but was swiftly led away by a guard after she was spotted by journalists.

The glamorous Chapman was at the centre of the biggest spy scandal between the United States and Russia since the Cold War as one of the US-based "sleeper" agents who in July were exchanged in a dramatic spy swap.

She has since kept a low profile back in Russia while making tentative moves to reinvent herself as a showbusiness figure.

In August she posed for a photo shoot published in weekly gossip magazine Zhara, modelling an assortment of clingy cocktail dresses at a hotel in central Moscow.

Last month, she attended a party at a Moscow nightclub organised by the Russian edition of Maxim magazine after she was nominated as one of Russia's 100 sexiest women.

A Soyuz rocket carrying two Russians and an American to the International Space Station took off at 3:11 am Friday (23:11 GMT Thursday) from Baikonur.

© 2010 AFP

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