MOSCOW – Undercover spy turned media star Anna Chapman marked the New Year by starring in a parody of a popular Soviet spy film and then telling Russians never to keep love a secret.
The increasingly prolific Chapman, who has ranged between erotic modelling, politics and lion taming since her expulsion from the United States, was shown for the first time turning to acting in the short film.
The film, broadcast in state-controlled Channel One's glitzy New Year gala, showed Chapman playing herself as she met Maxim Isayev, the fictional undercover hero from the legendary Soviet series "Seventeen Moments of Spring".
In the films and original novels, Isayev operates undercover in Nazi Germany under the name of Stirlitz.
Seen as the Russian answer to James Bond, Stirlitz is believed to be a favourite character of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who himself served as a KGB agent in the former East Germany.
Shot in black and white, the three minute film shows Stirlitz sitting in a cafe with romantic piano music playing as Chapman sits some tables away coquettishly sipping tea.
He stares at Chapman, but known for his shyness and reserve, never speaks to her, instead nervously playing with his collar and swallowing mints.
"They had never met, because in the United States they do not show 'Seventeen Moments of Spring'," intoned the voiceover.
"'What a beautiful woman', Stirlitz thought. 'It is a shame that the years have not changed me. I am still the same, reserved, modest, and nervous'," it added.
The film said the secret signal for their meeting had been Chapman's scantily clad cover spread last year in the Russian men's magazine Maxim -- the real name of the legendary Stirlitz.
At the end of the film, the picture turned to colour and Chapman told the nation that love should never be an undercover secret.
"If you have love hidden deep your heart you will never succeed in concealing it. It is best to come out with it. And New Year's night is the best time for this," she said toasting with a glass of champagne.
Although intelligence experts berated Chapman and the other undercover agents expelled from the United States for their shoddy spycraft, her high profile had raised speculation she may be being groomed for a public role.
The comparison of her to Stirlitz, while seemingly light hearted, appears to be a serious attempt by state media to present Chapman as an exemplary young patriot devoted to the motherland.
Last month she joined a pro-Putin youth organisation and some observers believe she is preparing to stand for the Russian parliament in elections at the end of this year.
In a lengthy chat show appearance on December 30, she met acquaintances from her youth in the southern city of Volgograd, including her first love, and was even presented with a pet lion as a gift.
Chapman's appearance was part of ambitious New Year gala from Channel One, which also included live performances in Moscow from Elton John and Sting.
For the second year running, the channel poked gentle fun at its ruling duo of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev, in a New Year cartoon of them dancing on Red Square and reviewing 2010.
"The CIA uncovered our (sleeper) agents," sang the cartoon Medvedev. "I would have gone spying with Anna Chapman," a merry-looking Putin shot back in response.
Channel One has posted the new Anna Chapman film on: www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ryUu7uaexo&NR=1