One of them, flame-haired "femme fatale" Anna Chapman, has broken the old KGB code of silence and turned her notoriety into celebrity with provocative photo shoots in two men's magazines – including the Russian edition of Maxim – sensational public appearances, and the recent launch of her own iPhone app.
The Kommersant story's accuracy was confirmed Friday by President Medvedev, who told reporters on the sidelines of the G-20 summit that "as far as I'm concerned, what was published in Kommersant was not news. I found out about it on the day in happened, with all its attributes."
Medvedev may even be the one responsible for leaking the story to Kommersant, an independent but mainstream Moscow business daily, in the first place, some analysts suggest.
"Medvedev had the feeling that Putin was the big domestic winner from the spy scandal," says Andrei Soldatov, editor of Agentura.ru, an online journal that reports on the secret services. Putin, who appears in increasingly open competition with Medvedev in advance of 2012 presidential elections, used his own background as a KGB spy to appear in charge. In comparison, Medvedev, who was blindsided by the spy revelations at the end of an official visit to the US, looked weak and out-of-the-loop.