Page last updated at 13:37 GMT, Wednesday, 30 June 2010 14:37 UK

Russian press says Obama, Kremlin don't want spy row

Coverage of the arrests of a group of alleged Russian spies in the US dominates the Russian press.

Many commentators say that neither the US nor Russia want row to damage relations, and suspect anti-Russian elements in the US security services of trying to frustrate rapprochement between the two nations.


News of the spy scandal is plastered across the front pages on 30 June - especially in the mass market titles.

Komsomolskaya Pravda
A large, colour artist's impression in the centre of the page carries the headline in large red capitals: "Americans get their teeth into 'Russian agents' with their Morse code, invisible ink and orange suitcases." It also carries a playful reference to sport: "Spy games 2010".

Moskovskiy Komsomolets
A front page cartoon shows a man in a vest smoking a cigarette and holding a bottle of whisky in one hand and a bottle of vodka in the other, with an empty glass in front of him. He is saying: "I don't understand who am I today - a spy or an intelligence officer." The headline reads: "The FBI hits the bulls-eye. Spy scandal directed against Obama."

A colour artist's impression of the defendants in court dominates the front page under the headline: "11 Shtirlitses in one fell swoop" - a reference to a popular TV serial about an undercover Soviet spy in World War II.

Tvoy Den
A front page cartoon shows a man in green uniform pouring dirt on a photograph of President Obama out of a bucket marked "Russian spies - 11 items". The speech bubble coming out of his mouth says: "He's got way too white for us!" Another man in a suit is holding open a trap-door above the president's head. The text next to the cartoon reads: "US special services have put their president on the spot by conducting a very stupid operation to capture alleged Russian intelligence officers." A headline underneath said: "Ooo! How stupid".

The story takes up about half of the front page under the headline "Spionoobmaniya" (an invented words punning on Spymania and Spy-swindle) and the subtitle "The biggest Russian spy scandal in the USA seems to be extremely unconvincing and unnecessary".

The front page carries a quarter-page story under the headline "They are catching spies, going after Obama" above a coloured artist's impression of five of the defendants in court.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta
The paper runs the start of a report in a thin strip under the headline story about the Russian budget. "The FBI interferes with the 'reset' [in Russia-US relations]" says the headline, with a strapline saying: "Spy scandal casts Moscow-Washington rapprochement into doubt."

Vremya Novostey
Runs a five-column story at the bottom of the front-page under the headline "Your police are on the loose", a quote from Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. The subtitle reads: "Spy scandal between USA and Russia breaks out at height of reset". The word "Crisis" in smallish lettering appears in an inset over the article proper.


Most commentators think the row will blow over, but a couple say it could derail the strategic arms reduction agreement and "freeze" the most recent accords with the US.

Nikolay Surkov in Komsomolskaya Pravda
"As soon as Dmitriy Medvedev's visit to the US ended, a riveting spy scandal broke out in America, in the best traditions of Hollywood and the Cold War."

Kirill Belyaninov and Vladimir Solovyev in Kommersant
Reaction to the scandal in the political circles of the two countries shows that neither the Kremlin nor the White House wants this scandal to turn into a major row... The effect of the big spy scandal was almost immediately spoiled by the nature of the charges against those detained.

Nikolai Leonov, a deputy head of the First Main Directorate of the then Soviet KGB, said "Nowadays it is simply laughable to imagine intelligence using cryptography or invisible ink... The main target of the spy scandal is Barack Obama himself... many would like American policy to go back to the 'Bush tracks' and our reset to be frozen. I think the aim of these actions is to compromise the foreign policy course of the American head of state."

Yevgeny Shestakov in Rossiyskaya Gazeta
The security departments needed a scandal in the spirit of the Cold War to show Obama, who had just flown back from the G20 summit, that one should not totally trust the Russians.

Igor Petrushov and Igor Ivanov in Trud
The arrest... happened at the height of the "reset". The scandal is being used by political forces inside America that do not want friendship between Moscow and Washington. The US Justice Department announced the arrests of the alleged spies the day after Dmitry Medvedev's US visit, which was marked by warm relations between the two leaders.

There are people in the American establishment who are hostile towards Russia and who do not want a reset in relations. The scandal may have been started by them but it was badly prepared. It is obvious that the scandal is neither in the interests of the Obama administration nor in the interests of the Medvedev administration.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta
Viktor Kremenyuk, deputy director of the US and Canada Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said the arrests would have negative consequences for the development of Russian-US relations. "Everything they have agreed upon will be frozen."

Gennady Savchenko in Novyye Izvestiya
The timing and the place chosen by the US special services to neutralize the alleged spies are striking ... Fedor Lukyanov, a member of the Foreign and Defence Policy Council, said... "the opponents of ratification [of the strategic arms agreement in Congress] have got an additional trump card".

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

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