Accused abroad, Russians become celebrities at home - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Accused abroad, Russians become celebrities at home

(AP Photo/Pavel Ptitsin, File). FILE - In this Sunday, April 22, 2012 filer, Maria Butina, a gun-rights activist, poses for a photo at a shooting range in Moscow, Russia. Accused of working as an undeclared foreign agent in the U.S., Butina is fast bec... (AP Photo/Pavel Ptitsin, File). FILE - In this Sunday, April 22, 2012 filer, Maria Butina, a gun-rights activist, poses for a photo at a shooting range in Moscow, Russia. Accused of working as an undeclared foreign agent in the U.S., Butina is fast bec...
(AP Photo/Misha Japaridze, File). FILE - In this Tuesday, March 12, 2013 file photo, former KGB agent Andrei Lugovoi speaks at a news conference in Moscow, Russia. The case of Andrei Lugovoi, a key suspect in the 2006 killing of ex-KGB officer Alexande... (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze, File). FILE - In this Tuesday, March 12, 2013 file photo, former KGB agent Andrei Lugovoi speaks at a news conference in Moscow, Russia. The case of Andrei Lugovoi, a key suspect in the 2006 killing of ex-KGB officer Alexande...
(AP Photo /Luba Sheme, File). FILE. In this file photo taken on Sunday, April 3, 2011, Anna Chapman, who was deported from the U.S. on charges of espionage, displays a creation by Russian designers Shiyan & Rudkovskaya during a Fashion Week in Mosc... (AP Photo /Luba Sheme, File). FILE. In this file photo taken on Sunday, April 3, 2011, Anna Chapman, who was deported from the U.S. on charges of espionage, displays a creation by Russian designers Shiyan & Rudkovskaya during a Fashion Week in Mosc...
(Metropolitan Police via AP, File). FILE In this file grab taken from CCTV and issued by the Metropolitan Police in London on Wednesday Sept. 5, 2018, Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov walk on Fisherton Road, Salisbury, England on March 4, 2018. Pre... (Metropolitan Police via AP, File). FILE In this file grab taken from CCTV and issued by the Metropolitan Police in London on Wednesday Sept. 5, 2018, Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov walk on Fisherton Road, Salisbury, England on March 4, 2018. Pre...
(AP Photo/Pavel Ptitsin). In this photo taken on Friday, Sept. 7, 2012, Maria Butina walks with Alexander Torshin then a member of the Russian upper house of parliament in Moscow, Russia. When gun activist Maria Butina arrived in Washington in 2014 to ... (AP Photo/Pavel Ptitsin). In this photo taken on Friday, Sept. 7, 2012, Maria Butina walks with Alexander Torshin then a member of the Russian upper house of parliament in Moscow, Russia. When gun activist Maria Butina arrived in Washington in 2014 to ...

By JAMES ELLINGWORTH
Associated Press

MOSCOW (AP) - The last time Britain accused two Russians of an assassination, one of them ended up in the Russian parliament.

The case of Andrei Lugovoi, a key suspect in the 2006 killing of ex-KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko, shows how the two alleged Russian military intelligence operatives accused by Britain of poisoning ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal could have lucrative careers in Russia if they go public.

President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday the men - who British authorities said used the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov - appeared to be innocent. He suggested they tell their story "to some media outlet."

Hours later, Russian state TV said it had spoken with Petrov and that he planned to comment on the case next week. Previous cases show that could be an improbable springboard into parliament or a network TV show.

When some Russians have been accused of crimes abroad, political and business leaders have embraced them and made them celebrities.

ANDREI LUGOVOI

Accused of poisoning Litvinenko with the radioactive substance polonium, Lugovoi, a former KGB officer, parlayed his newfound fame into a political career. In 2007, he was elected to parliament on the ticket of the nationalist LDPR party, which has strong Kremlin ties.

Since then, he's given his name to the Lugovoi Law - a 2014 measure allowing authorities to block "extremist" websites without a court ruling - and he's a regular commentator on the Skripal case for state TV.

Lugovoi argues Skripal's poisoning had nothing to do with Russia and blames Britain for harboring what he calls defectors.

"As long as you keep welcoming all kinds of scum on your territory, you're going to keep having problems," he said in March on a popular talk shows.

The Russian constitution bans extraditing criminal suspects, and Lugovoi's status as a lawmaker makes him immune from prosecution at home. A fellow suspect, Dmitry Kovtun, has kept a lower profile.

ANNA CHAPMAN

When the FBI rounded up 10 Russian sleeper agents in 2010 and sent them home in a spy swap, one caught the eye of the tabloids.

The then-28-year-old Chapman, who was married to a British man, later launched a modeling career in Russia, and was briefly on the board of the youth arm of a pro-Putin political party.

She's best known, however, as the host of "Chapman's Secrets," a long-running show mixing anti-U.S. rhetoric with conspiracy theories and mysticism.

"Why does official science still not concede that unidentified flying objects are alien spaceships?" she said one episode. "Our hypothesis that alien intelligence has long colluded with the ruling elite was recently and unexpectedly confirmed. What are politicians and soldiers keeping quiet about? I, Anna Chapman, will reveal this secret."

More than 400 episodes have been made. Last week, guests speculated the U.S. was training Eastern European guerrillas to invade Russia, and another - introduced as a shaman - suggested intelligent trees caused hikers to go missing out of spite for humanity.

"It's incredible, but the living forest from the movie 'Avatar' isn't the director's make-believe," Chapman summarized.

MARIA BUTINA

Accused of working as an undeclared foreign agent in the U.S., Butina is fast becoming a cause celebre at home.

She was a relatively obscure gun-rights activist in Russia before she started making political contacts among Republicans and National Rifle Association members in the U.S. Now, Butina's photo is the avatar on the Russian Foreign Ministry's social media profiles.

Government rhetoric portrays her as a martyr to U.S. paranoia and a victim of poor conditions in the Washington, D.C., jail where she's being held pending trial.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • NationalMore>>

  • Surgery called success for Allman Brothers' Dickey Betts

    Surgery called success for Allman Brothers' Dickey Betts

    Saturday, September 22 2018 10:20 AM EDT2018-09-22 14:20:50 GMT
    Sunday, September 23 2018 1:04 AM EDT2018-09-23 05:04:03 GMT
    (Jason Vorhees/The Macon Telegraph via AP, File). FILE - In this June 3, 2017, file photo, founding member of the Allman Brothers Band Dickey Betts exits the funeral of Gregg Allman at Snow's Memorial Chapel, in Macon, Ga. Betts is in “critical but sta...(Jason Vorhees/The Macon Telegraph via AP, File). FILE - In this June 3, 2017, file photo, founding member of the Allman Brothers Band Dickey Betts exits the funeral of Gregg Allman at Snow's Memorial Chapel, in Macon, Ga. Betts is in “critical but sta...
    Allman Brothers Band guitarist Dickey Betts has had successful surgery after slipping and hitting his head while playing with his dog in Florida.More >>
    Allman Brothers Band guitarist Dickey Betts has had successful surgery after slipping and hitting his head while playing with his dog in Florida.More >>
  • Art's iconic 'Blue Boy' gets major 250th birthday makeover

    Art's iconic 'Blue Boy' gets major 250th birthday makeover

    Saturday, September 22 2018 12:31 PM EDT2018-09-22 16:31:31 GMT
    Sunday, September 23 2018 1:03 AM EDT2018-09-23 05:03:05 GMT
    (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes). In this Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018, photo The Huntington's senior paintings conservator, Christina O'Connell, examines "The Blue Boy" painting, made around 1770 by the English painter Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788), through...(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes). In this Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018, photo The Huntington's senior paintings conservator, Christina O'Connell, examines "The Blue Boy" painting, made around 1770 by the English painter Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788), through...
    "Blue Boy" is getting a long-awaited makeover, and the public will get to watch as one of the world's most iconic paintings gets a little nip here, a tuck there and some splashes of fresh paint.More >>
    "Blue Boy" is getting a long-awaited makeover, and the public will get to watch as one of the world's most iconic paintings gets a little nip here, a tuck there and some splashes of fresh paint.More >>
  • Burt Reynolds mourned at small private memorial in Florida

    Burt Reynolds mourned at small private memorial in Florida

    Friday, September 21 2018 8:20 PM EDT2018-09-22 00:20:25 GMT
    Sunday, September 23 2018 1:02 AM EDT2018-09-23 05:02:25 GMT
    (AP Photo/Bob Galbraith, File). FILE - In this March 27, 1987 file photo, Burt Reynolds, right, holds hands with Loni Anderson at luncheon in Los Angeles. Reynolds' friends and relatives shared memories of the late actor at a private memorial service. ...(AP Photo/Bob Galbraith, File). FILE - In this March 27, 1987 file photo, Burt Reynolds, right, holds hands with Loni Anderson at luncheon in Los Angeles. Reynolds' friends and relatives shared memories of the late actor at a private memorial service. ...
    About 80 of Burt Reynolds friends and relatives shared memories of the late actor at a private memorial service.More >>
    About 80 of Burt Reynolds friends and relatives shared memories of the late actor at a private memorial service.More >>
Powered by Frankly