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18 Oct, 2010 14:19

Medvedev awards spies expelled from US

President Dmitry Medvedev has given the highest state awards to the Russian agents who were expelled from the US in July this year, in the biggest spy swap since the end of the Cold War.

"A ceremony took place in the Kremlin today [Monday] to hand top state honors to a number of Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) employees, including the agents who were working in the United States and came back to Russia in July," said the president’s press secretary, Natalya Timakova, as cited by Interfax.

No details have been revealed so far about the exact orders bestowed upon them and for what achievements.

Ten alleged Russian spies were arrested in the US on June 27. Eight of them were detained for allegedly carrying out longterm assignments for the Russian government, and two others for allegedly taking part in the same intelligence gathering operation. Yet another suspect was caught in Cyprus, but later disappeared after being released on bail.

Many of the agents had been working in the US for years undercover and had their homes and families in America. Following the scandal, the ten were traded for four detainees convicted of espionage in Russia. The spy swap, between Russia and the US, took place in Vienna on July 9.

While little is known about what the agents deported from the US are doing now, at least one of them – Anna Chapman – still regularly makes the headlines. When the spy scandal was at its peak she was dubbed “the femme fatale” of the case, for her glamorous looks. Earlier this month she appeared at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, to watch the launch of Russia's Soyuz spacecraft and wave goodbye to a US astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts who were leaving for the International Space Station.

Last week, Russian FondServiceBank reported that from the start of October, the ex-spy has been working for the bank as its president’s adviser on innovations and investment. The financial institution services Russia’s domestic high-tech industries, aircraft and aerospace equipment makers. According to its press release, Chapman is currently working on a book about new opportunities in internet resources.