19 Oct 2010

Spies receive top Kremlin honours

10:23 pm on 19 October 2010

Russian president Dmitri Medvedev has bestowed top state honours to a group of spies deported from the United states in July.

Ten spies admitted in a US court to being agents for a foreign country.

Moscow then agreed to exchange four US spies for the Russian agents and the swap was carried out in Vienna in July, the BBC reports.

It was America's biggest spy swap with Russia since the Cold War.

Russia's Interfax news agency quoted a presidential spokesperson as saying the spies received the awards at a ceremony in the Kremlin.

The Kremlin has so far not released any television footage or pictures of the ceremony.

Among the spies was Anna Chapman - whose photos from social networking sites made her a media sensation. She made a surprise public appearance during a launch of Russia's spacecraft at a cosmodrome in Kazakhstan earlier this month.

In July, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin revealed that he had met the 10 agents, claiming they were living "tough lives" and had been "betrayed", the BBC says.

Mr Putin told journalists that he had sung Soviet-era patriotic songs with the spies. He did not say where the meeting took place.