Russia honours Anna Chapman and fellow spies

The Russian spies deported from the United States in July have received top state awards in a ceremony at the Kremlin.

A spokeswoman for the President Dmitry Medvedev said that a number of employees of Russia's SVR intelligence agency, "including spies who worked in the United States and returned to Russia in July", were given "the highest state awards" at the ceremony, according to news agencies. She did not elaborate on how many spies received the awards, or which specific awards had been granted.

The facts that are known about the work of the spies in the United States suggest that they were not particularly successful at uncovering any major secrets, but since their return to Russia they have been lauded as heroes.

Shortly after their return, the Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, himself a former Russian agent in East Germany, said he had met with the deportees and they sang patriotic songs together. He said at the time that the spies would have a bright future in Russia.

Since the spy swap at Vienna Airport, when the 10 alleged Russian sleeper agents were swapped for four Russians serving jail sentences for links with Western intelligence agencies, all 10 deportees have kept a very low profile. They have not spoken to the media and little is known of what they are doing now.

The only exception is Anna Chapman, the redhead who made headlines with her raunchy Facebook photos. She has already posed for a Russian glossy magazine, and recently made an appearance at Baikonur, the site on the Kazakh steppe used for Russian spacecraft launches.

Ms Chapman travelled to the site to wish a joint US-Russian space mission well, but was shielded from reporters by a burly security guard.

Russian media reported that she is now working as an adviser for a leading Russian bank.

There have also been rumours that she plans to launch a career in showbusiness or politics.