Image: Anna Chapman
Sergei Chirikov  /  EPA file
Russian spy Anna Chapman smiles during a congress of pro-Kremlin Molodaya Gvardiya (Young Guard) movement in Moscow, earlier this month. Chapman was at the center of the biggest spy crisis between the United States and Russia since the Cold War as one of the U.S.-based 'sleeper' agents who in July were exchanged in a dramatic spy swap.
msnbc.com news services
updated 12/31/2010 5:48:20 AM ET 2010-12-31T10:48:20

Russian spy Anna Chapman has revealed her secrets in her first TV interview: She has a passion for shooting and wants a lion as a pet.

Chapman says she considers the failure of her mission a chance for new opportunities. She said on a talk show late Thursday her dream was to have a lion cub, and one was immediately brought out to her on a leash.

The red-haired 28-year old became a tabloid star as one of ten Russian sleeper agents exposed in the United States and deported this summer in the biggest spy swap since the Cold War.

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She also said that Sean Connery is her favorite James Bond and that she admires Angelina Jolie.

From shadows to spotlight
Chapman has made a public name for herself, posing in slinky lingerie, showing up at a space launch and moving in high Kremlin circles since returning to her home country. She is also the celebrity face of a Moscow bank and joined the leadership of the youth wing of the main pro-Kremlin party.

Welcomed back by ex-KGB spy and current President Vladimir Putin in July, Chapman entered the political arena earlier this month when she assumed an advisory role with the Young Guard, the youth wing of the dominant United Russia Party.

Chapman, who had led a double life posing as an American and trying to infiltrate U.S. policymaking circles, delivered a rallying speech at a meeting of the group after joining its Public Council.

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"Let's start to change the country with ourselves," said Chapman, on stage in a curve-hugging red-and-black dress.

"If each of us were gladdened by the new day, then we could do something new and useful," she said. "Be Happy!"

Chapman took on her new role as United Russia gears up for 2011 parliamentary elections which the party hopes will preserve its huge parliamentary majority and set the stage for a commanding win for the Kremlin's presidential candidate in 2012.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Video: Spy Anna Chapman appears on Russian TV

  1. Transcript of: Spy Anna Chapman appears on Russian TV

    LESTER HOLT, co-host: But let's begin this half-hour with Anna Chapman 's first TV interview. NBC 's Martin Fletcher has details for us. Martin , good morning.

    MARTIN FLETCHER reporting: Well, Lester , good morning. You know, she's packed quite a bit of living in her 28 years. Sent back to Russia with the biggest spy swap since the Cold War , Anna Chapman -- or rather, Anya Chapman as she's known back home now -- is busy creating a whole new persona. If this is the price of failure, bring it on. Anna Chapman : humiliated Russian spy in America , superstar at home.

    Unidentified TV Host: Anya Chapman .

    FLETCHER: The subject of an hour-long TV show , the spy finally revealed her secrets. She likes spy movies, may want to act, and wants a pet lion. As for the question, 'Were you a spy?' her lips are sealed. But her life is quickly becoming an open book. An adorable child, she loved ballet and gymnastics, won prizes for reciting poetry. But the TV show 's host stayed on message, calling her a future Russian Mata Hari . 'I have a passion for shooting,' Chapman says. Move over, James Bond . Anna Chapman , cover girl, public face of the Russian secret service . Maybe they can teach us something, after all.

    Mr. JAY LENO: Do we have any spies that hot?

    Vice President JOE BIDEN: Let me make it clear, it wasn't my idea to send her back.

    FLETCHER: It wasn't Chapman's idea, either. One of 10 deported from the United States six months ago, accused of being Russian spies. Still, on the show she had fond memories. ' New York , it's an amazing city,' she says, 'very interesting, very positive energy.' She didn't have a bad word to say about America , and seemed to enjoy an old boyfriend's memory. ' Anya was my first kiss,' he says. Anna Chapman , endearing herself to Russia . The failed spy appears to be grooming herself for success in other fields, politics. Amid great fanfare, she became one of the leaders of the youth wing of Prime Minister Putin 's political party. Her recipe for happiness in life, loving your motherland; although wealth and fame don't seem to hurt, either. She thinks Angelina Jolie is one of the most beautiful women in the world, and hints that she, too, would like to act. The host asked her who she'd most like to act with in a James Bond movie . Her answer:

    Ms. ANNA CHAPMAN: Sean Connery.

    FLETCHER: Just another starstruck girl, or the new face of Russia ? As for her dreams, remember, she wanted a pet lion? Well, at the end of the show she was given a lion cub on a leash. May all your dreams come true too, Lester .

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