London: Former Russian spy Anna Chapman, who was involved in a high-profile spy swap with the US, has finally broken her silence over her life as a secret agent, but said her marriage to a Briton was based "purely on mutual love".
The 29-year-old redhead became a British citizen when she married Briton Alex Chapman in 2001. But her dual-nationality passport was revoked by Britain last year after she was exposed as a Russian spy.
But the former spy shows no signs of guilt for spying for her country. "Am I a patriot? Of course I am. Patriotism shows itself in one`s deeds," she said.
In her first-ever interview to Western media, Anna told The Sun: "Everything beautiful comes to an end at some point and there is always a new stage and better road to start walking on."
"My time in Britain has made me better in so many ways that it`s hard to tell what I would be if it wasn`t for London. It was certainly my honour to be part of this nation, even for a short while."
Anna was part of a 10-person Russian spy ring nabbed by the FBI last year. Russia traded four imprisoned Western agents in a spy swap in July - and Anna returned with her comrades to Moscow.
There were reports in the media that said perhaps ex-husband Alex, 31, was left wondering if his five-year marriage to Anna had been a sham all along.
But Anna has denied seducing Alex to provide cover for her secret missions.
"My marriage to Alex was based purely on mutual love. I still remember the days we spent together with real tenderness and nostalgia. I ask you not to look for `secret motives` where there aren`t any. It was love at first sight, which only grew stronger every day."
Anna, a diplomat`s daughter, began dating Alex after they met at in London in 2001.
Anna said she had fallen "head over heels" for Alex because he looked just like Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher.
"Everything linked to Alex was soaked with true English culture, it was unbelievable. It was so natural and beautiful to fall in love with someone representing something I was so curious about."
"It took me precisely one minute to fall madly in love with him. Every time he opened his mouth I enjoyed his beautiful manner of speaking, I was captivated by his accent. Whenever he rolled his tobacco and wore his loose-hanging jeans, with his Clarks shoes and Liam Gallagher-style hair, it took my breath away."
"His manly beauty, I would even say his aristocratic beauty, seemed simply ideal to me. I had neither the strength nor desire to fight this beautiful feeling which opened a whole new fairytale world for me."
The couple wed in Russia five months later. Anna was then just 19 and Alex 21.
The ceremony was held in total secrecy with no family members present and a single stranger as witness.
"We married secretly in Moscow and it was very romantic. Our parents knew nothing about our relationship and plans. Most likely they would not have approved the marriage, though later I was close to Alex`s mother and father. I had on my school graduation dress. I only wore it three times, my big day at school, the day I met Alex and when we married."
She got a British passport after the wedding and landed in London.
The newlyweds set up home in Stoke Newington, north London, and later in South Kensington, west London.
Anna later began mixing with rich and powerful Russian expats in London.
In 2006 the couple split and Anna moved to New York on the orders of her Russian bosses.
At the time of her arrest for spying, Alex said: "It`s just totally weird to think that my ex-wife could be involved in something like this."
Anna is, however, sure Alex will find love again.
"Alex is an incredible, talented person who still hasn`t yet found himself in this life. But I have faith things will become better and he will find his happiness because he does know how to love and care for a woman."
"He had such a tenderness in his touch, his looks, his words. When you truly love someone, you become one. This was how we were. We could not make decisions without each other."
She has now become a celebrity. She has her own TV show and has appeared in a modelling shoot for Maxim magazine.