President Putin has been saying that he wants to boost cooperation and contacts between the intelligence agencies of the two countries. In spite of the latest polite exchange of notes and visits at the top level, the Kremlin still sees the Americans as the "main enemy," Russian experts say. "The flow of anti-American rhetoric isn't diminishing," says Igor Bunin, director of the Center for Political Technologies, a Moscow think tank. "Americans get blamed wherever local non-government organizations receive U.S. funding, and even people involved with English language courses are being labeled as foreign agents."
Two news reports loomed large on Russia's main state-owned channel last night: "Resident's Mistake," about the FSB's arrest of Fogle, and "Swampland," an investigative documentary that detailed how Washington is providing the funding for revolution in the streets of Russia. Americans, the second report said, are "getting involved in our country's domestic politics, ignoring the sovereignty of other states." In other words, they're acting just the way Fogle tried to act -- by paying money to Russians who are prepared to serve the American agenda. That was the message the film hammered home.
In today's Russia, says Bunin, nothing -- whether it's an anti-American documentary or footage of the arrest of a U.S. spy -- makes it onto the national airwaves without the Russian president's personal approval: "Putin could put an end to this loud anti-American campaign with a snap of his fingers, but the thing is that he actually approves of it himself."
The intensifying pressure has already prompted two U.S. democracy promotion organizations to pull out of Russia earlier this year. Dozens of Russian NGOs have stopped applying for U.S. grants for fear of being prosecuted as "foreign agents." These tensions aren't about to go away anytime soon. The political scientist and former Kremlin adviser Sergei Markov is convinced that the Kremlin will never stop putting pressure on pro-American "agents." "Nobody," he says, "is going to give a chance to American organizations inspired by radical characters like John McCain to foment a revolution in Russia." And so, he says, as long as America pursues attempts to overthrow Putin, "the two countries will continue to live in a state of cold peace."