The story out of Plano, Texas, is that 24-year-old Anna Fermanova has been placed under house arrest for being a Russian spy. According to the Dallas Morning News, the cosmetology student denies the charges against her, saying that the “weapons” she is accused of attempting to smuggle out of the United States in her luggage in March were bought online for her husband, who wanted them for his Muscovite friend, who is a hunter. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say she violated U.S. law by attempting to take sophisticated military equipment (rifle scopes) out of the United States without State Department approval. The scopes were confiscated in March, and Fermanova was allowed to continue her trip to Moscow. She was arrested when she returned from Russia in July.
“She is quite sexy, you could say, but she is not a spy,” noted Scott Palmer, her lawyer.
And it is her tabloid-friendly sexiness that probably makes the story much more than it really is. Anna Fermanova is pretty. She’s young. She has ties with Russia. She’s on Facebook in a bikini.
“There’s no terrorism, no spying, nothing that remotely touches these recent concerns,” Fermanova’s lawyer has said. “She’s one woman who bought something on the Internet, put it in her luggage and this apparently violates federal law.”
It hasn’t been a month since Anna Chapman was queen of the tabloids as a sexy Russian spy in an 11-person spy ring. Ten of those accused of spying for Russia were deported. One had slipped past American authorities and was last known to be in Cyprus. The photogenic Chapman became the Russian spy ring pin-up girl for the sensationalist media for weeks as news of the arrests and the deportation proceedings dominated international news.
Anna Fermanova, however, seems to have no known association with the spy ring, a group of individuals who were living in the U.S. under assumed names. Anna Chapman, born Anna Kushchenko, was an online real estate agent in New York. Chapman had a Facebook page that showed her in various poses in tight-fitting dresses. She pleaded guilty to conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government.
Fermanova, unlike Anna Chapman, has lived in Texas most of her life. In fact, she isn’t Russian at all. She emigrated from her native Latvia with her parents, Jewish religious refugees, at the age of 9. She graduated from Richardson High School and Collin College, both located just north of Dallas. Her family has maintained close ties with their homeland, and Fermanova’s husband works in the financial industry in Moscow. Fermanova has spent time in Russia as an English teacher as well.
It isn’t difficult to see that Anna Fermanova’s history makes a great cover story for a Russian spy.
The three rifle scopes the 24-year-old has been accused of attempting to smuggle appear on a list of armaments that have to have State Department approval before being taken out of the U. S. Fermanova’s lawyer maintains that his client bought the items legally online. All three scopes are night-vision rifle attachments. The total cost for all three is nearly $13,000.
Although Fermanova’s story doesn’t have the sleeper cell backstory that Anna Chapman’s Russian spy ring story did, it seems to be enough to make her the “new sexy Russian spy.” Smuggling forbidden “weaponry” into Russia, although somewhat mundane, is still considered “spying,” even if that weaponry is readily available online at Amazon.com.
It is to be expected that the more clever Russian spies do not and will not have Facebook pages with bikini shots.
Anna Fermanova faces up to 10 years in federal prison if convicted.