On Twitter, Youtube and the Facebook-like social network VK, Russians have reacted to reports that state security arrested an alleged American CIA spy much the same way Americans have-- with a mix of anger, bemusement and disbelief.
Social media users shared photos of a man they identified as Ryan Christopher Fogle, an American diplomat who allegedly tried to recruit a Russian operative into the CIA. They also posted pictures that originally surfaced on the Russian news site RT.com showing Fogle's alleged "props" -- several wigs, a map of Moscow, and what appears to be recording equipment -- and an instruction letter to the operative that reads more like a spam e-mail than recruitment letter.
While some Russians seem to have seized on the incident as an example of American overreach -- "the United States did not hesitate to do [this] and worse," one man wrote on VK -- many have approached media reports with more skepticism.
One VK user wrote that the story sounded more like a novel than anything else. Another lamented that Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) is not eligible for an Academy Award, implying they had staged the incident. Many of the 120 comments on a Russian Youtube video of Fogel's detention marvel at his wig: "In the 21st century, with nano technology, he needs a wig?" one comment roughly translates.
Sergei Kane, a self-described actor and journalist, sees the incident as an example of American encroachment:
That translates roughly to: "It looks like a new spy scandal -- just a way to stir interest in adapting the series 'Homeland.'"