Just when I hoped it was over, the scandal returns with the detainment of the 12th spy in the US.
The 23-year-old’s name is as yet unknown and, though his American visa was nullified on June 26 (one day before the arrest of the others), he was not charged with anything. This, I’m thinking, may be a nod to Moscow that this is will not spin into a sequel of Chapmangate.
In the meantime, here’s what the rest are up to:
Igor Sutyagin, the weapons researcher accused of spying for the US and handed over by the Russians on Friday, is patiently waiting in the boonies of England for a residency permit which is apparently on its way. The essentially irrelevant liberal Russian opposition party Yabloko has invited Sutyagin to join its ranks, but said his application would be examined the same as anyone else’s. Heads were scratched.
One of the Russians swapped to America is said to be coming back to Russia, which Russia has not forbidden, because he has a country house up in the Tver region.
The Illegals, meanwhile, are hanging out in Yasenevo, on the southwestern outskirts of Moscow, where the SVR has a compound. They are not allowed to leave the territory — though family is allowed to visit — while they spend the next couple of weeks being grilled by SVR officers on how they fucked up so badly. “Treachery,” writes Moskovsky Komsomolets, which first reported the story, “is not out of the question.”
According to Interfax, the Illegals will be swallowed up by the witness protection program, which will change their names.
It is unclear, however, if Anna “Of Disputed Hotness” Chapman (above) will participate. There are reports that she is answering emails and phone calls, and is even willing to talk to reporters — for a fee. (This, of course, would be in violation of the deal struck with the Americans that bars her from profiting from her story.) Britain has revoked her citizenship, foiling her plans to pick where she left off in London.
Meanwhile, in her hometown of Volgograd, she is a hero. There is already talk of putting her on the ballot for the State Duma and the town has announced a contest to write a song in her honor.