Kenya drawn into US-Russia spy saga

Tuesday July 6 2010

New York newspapers are on display featuring personal photos of suspected Russian spies Anna Chapman (L) and Richard and Cynthia Murphy at a news stand in New York, June 30, 2010. Russia and the United States sought to cool a heated scandal sparked by the arrest of 11 suspected Kremlin spies, amid fears the Cold War-style furore could harm improving ties. PHOTO/AFP

New York newspapers are on display featuring personal photos of suspected Russian spies Anna Chapman (L) and Richard and Cynthia Murphy at a news stand in New York, June 30, 2010. Russia and the United States sought to cool a heated scandal sparked by the arrest of 11 suspected Kremlin spies, amid fears the Cold War-style furore could harm improving ties. PHOTO/AFP  

By PETER LEFTIE

The father of a Russian woman arrested in the United States on allegations of espionage worked in Kenya in the early 90s.

Ms Anna Chapman, 28, who was seized last week is believed to have been part of a KGB spying ring.

Now Kenya has been dragged into the controversy after it emerged that her father worked at the Russian embassy in Nairobi.

The international media was on Tuesday abuzz with reports that Mr Vasily Kuschenko, was also suspected of being an undercover agent when he was in Kenya.

According to the reports, Mr Kuschenko ran a sky diving school in Kenya during his tour of duty, raising suspicion that he could have been on a secret mission.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry has promised to issue a statement on the matter on Wednesday.

“Let me check out all the facts about the matter then I can speak tomorrow,” Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetang’ula said on Tuesday.

Right wing British tabloid Daily Mail described Ms Chapman as a “practised deceiver” whose father, 53-year-old Kuschenko, worked in Kenya when she was a teenager.

According to the reports, the Russian Foreign ministry has refused to discussion about Mr Kuschenko or his career.

British papers report that much of Mr Kuschenko’s work was undercover. He and his wife Irina, 51, live in Moscow flats set aside for diplomats.

Also dragged into the saga is Zimbabwe following revelations that Ms Chapman had links with a Harare tycoon.

Her former husband, Briton Alex Chapman, reportedly told British intelligence that she set up a company, Southern Union with Mr Ken Sharpe, a Zimbabwean businessman.

The company, which has charitable status was set up to enable Zimbabwean expatriates send money back home at competitive exchange rates.

Zimbabwe’s state-owned Herald newspaper on Tuesday reported that Mr Sharpe was recently involved in brokering a deal between the Harare City Council and a Ukrainian company for the construction of a major road in the capital.

British media report that Ms Chapman moved millions of US dollars between Zimbabwe and the UK using Southern Union.

The money was allegedly laundered for espionage purposes.

There have also been claims that her father, was a KGB agent in Zimbabwe at the time.