Russians think spy scandal invented by U.S.: poll
The majority of Russians believe U.S. intelligence agencies fabricated the spy scandal to undermine warming ties between the former Cold War foes, an opinion poll has shown.
The biggest spy swap since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union took place on Friday with Russia and the United States appearing to have exchanged about 14 agents to defuse the espionage scandal that had threatened improving relations.
But in a reminder of deep suspicions that still remain more than two decades after the end of the Cold War, 53 percent of those polled said they believed the arrests were orchestrated by the U.S. secret services.
They said the arrests "were a provocation by American special services aimed at undermining relations between the United States and Russia," according to Russia's Levada Center.
Only a tenth of those polled believed the U.S. had arrested real Russian spies, while 37 percent said they found it hard to answer the question. The poll was conducted by between the 2-5 of July and surveyed 1,600 Russian adults across 130 cities.
All 10 of those detained by U.S. counter-intelligence officers pleaded guilty to being Russian agents in a New York court on Thursday. Russia has admitted they were all Russians.
The deal to swap four jailed Russians on charges of contact with Western intelligence agencies in exchange for the 10 agents, and the speed in which it was done, shows a mutual desire by the White House and the Kremlin to not damage ties.
But the poll showed 12 percent of Russians thought a new Cold War was on the horizon, while 58 percent said relations would stay warm.
[Source: Reuters, Moscow, 09Jul10]
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