Chapman has played up her Bond girl image since being deported from America last summer as part of an alleged spy ring of deep-cover agents from Moscow. She posed for the cover of the Russian edition of Maxim magazine in October, wearing only black lace underwear and holding a gun. An accompanying interview quoted her views on the differences in seducing men in Russia, Britain or America.
Next month, nude photos of her will appear in Playboy, though she didn't pose for the men's magazine. The images were apparently snapped by an ex-boyfriend, who posted them online back in July, the New York Daily News reported. Around the same time, Chapman's British ex-husband sold semi-nude photos of her to U.K. tabloids and dished private details about their married life, her sultry Russian accent and the sex toys they used.
But none of this seems to have hurt Chapman's career -- quite the contrary, in fact. At a ceremony in Moscow today, she is being appointed as a leader of the youth wing of Vladimir Putin's United Russia party. The 28-year-old will be the head of a new governing body in Molodaya Gvardiya (Young Guard), where she'll be assigned to work with "patriots and young business people," The Guardian quoted unidentified Russian officials as telling Moscow newspapers.
The Young Guard group is considered a fanatically pro-Putin youth organization that frequently holds street demonstrations and has been used by Putin's United Russia party in efforts to drum up support among Russian youth. It fell under suspicion last month, however, when a Russian journalist who had been critical of the Kremlin was severely beaten outside his Moscow home. The journalist, Oleg Kashin, had received threats allegedly from the Young Guard, but his assailants are unknown.
Chapman's new assignment comes on top of another prestigious job, as adviser to the president of FondServisBank, a Moscow bank specializing in Russian aerospace industries. Chapman clinched that gig in October, amid promises from Putin that the 10 agents expelled from the United States last summer would have "bright and interesting futures" in Russia.
Chapman and her fellow former spies have become political celebrities in Russia, and the government has pledged to take care of them. Those efforts reveal something different about the relationship between celebrity and politics in Russia.
"In America we've seen instances of celebrities becoming politicians, but ordinarily in a spy situation, one would expect authorities to keep it all reasonably quiet, or somewhat of an embarrassment," Alex Nice, a Russia expert at London's Chatham House think tank, told AOL News today. "But instead she's being paraded, and it suggests a certain attitude among Russian elites that's not quiet compatible with the U.S."
Chapman's high profile in Moscow also says something about Putin's efforts to garner support among Russia's youth. Coincidentally, her inauguration into the Young Guard leadership comes when the U.S. and Russia are poised to sign a nuclear arms treaty, underscoring their supposedly unprecedented cooperation.
As for Chapman's Playboy photos, perhaps Putin doesn't mind. The scantily clad cover girl on next month's issue of Russian Vogue is none other than Alina Kabayeva, a former Olympic gold medal gymnast -- and Putin's alleged mistress.
Since retiring from gymnastics, Kabayeva has also now entered politics and serves as a Russian parliament member for -- you guessed it -- Putin's United Russia party.