Russian spies awarded top Kremlin honours

London, Oct 19 (ANI): Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has given a group of undercover Russian spies, who were exposed by the FBI in June, top Kremlin honours.

Medvedev honoured their controversial work as sleeper agents in the United States by giving them all medals.

"A ceremony took place in the Kremlin today to hand top state honours to a number of Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) employees including the spies who were working in the United States and returned to Russia in July," the Telegraph quoted Medvedev's spokesman as saying.

She declined to say exactly what state awards they received though all such awards are handed out in recognition of services rendered to the motherland.

The FBI arrested the 10 men and women including glamorous wannabe property tycoon Anna Chapman in June after a long surveillance operation that embarrassed Russia and caused a diplomatic furore.

Washington deported the spies the following month in a Cold war-style cloak-and-dagger operation that saw them traded on the tarmac of Vienna airport for four men the Kremlin had convicted as Western spies.

Two of those men, Igor Sutyagin and Sergei Skripal, were later given sanctuary in Britain.

The Kremlin was initially coy about discussing what amounted to a serious setback to its worldwide espionage operations though Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister and himself a former KGB officer, later boasted he had sung patriotic songs with the spies.

The 10 spies have kept a low profile since their return to Russia with the exception of Anna Chapman who has taken a job advising a bank and made a series of bizarre publicity-seeking appearances. (ANI)

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