The Kremlin ordered state media to cut way back on their fawning coverage of President Donald Trump, reflecting a growing concern among senior Russian officials that the new U.S. administration will be less friendly than first thought, three people familiar with the matter said.
The order comes amid a growing chorus of anti-Russian sentiment in Washington, where U.S. spy and law-enforcement agencies are conducting multiple investigations to determine the full extent of contacts Trump’s advisers had with Russia during and after the 2016 election campaign.
Vladimir Putin’s administration justified the decision to curb coverage of Trump by saying that Russian viewers no longer find details of his transition to power interesting, according to one of the people. In reality, some of the most popular TV segments on Trump touched on ideas the Kremlin would rather not promote, such as his pledge to “drain the swamp,” the person said.
“They won’t pour buckets of criticism on Trump, they just won’t talk about him much,” Konstantin von Eggert, a political commentator for TV Rain, Russia’s only independent channel, said by phone. “The fate of Russia-American relations is much less predictable than it was just a few weeks ago.”