Reporting from Moscow – In Russia, Comey hearing is making no waves

Comey hearing

June 8, 2017, 9:02 a.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives at a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Kazakhstan (Alexei Nikolsky/Associated Press)
Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives at a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Kazakhstan (Alexei Nikolsky/Associated Press)

While many Americans are glued to their screens listening to former FBI Director James B. Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Russians are largely ignoring the hearings.

Even the Kremlin isn’t tuning in, said government spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has vehemently denied allegations that Russia interfered with the U.S. elections in favor of President Trump, and blamed the “hysteria” on Russophobia.

And Russian Sen. Alexei Pushkov today likened the Comey hearings to a witch hunt with parallels to McCarthyism. Trump’s enemies, he said, are out for blood.

The ongoing investigations into allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election hasn’t lit much of a spark in the Russian public.

“Most Russians don’t care or simply don’t believe that Russia could have influenced the U.S. elections,” said Oleg Kozlovsky, an opposition activist. “For many Russians, they just don’t believe that Russia is that influential in other countries’ politics.”

U.S. intelligence agencies have said there is clear evidence of Russian interference.

But nearly 72% of Russians polled by the Levada Center, an independent polling agency, shortly after Trump’s inauguration in January said Russia probably or definitely did not interfere with the U.S. election. Only 18% said they were following the issue closely.

“We are much more interested in the summit of the [Shanghai Cooperation Organization], which takes place today and tomorrow in Astana,” Peskov told Russian journalists today.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is an economic, political and military group that includes Russia, China and most of the former Soviet Central Asian republics. The meeting is being held this week in Kazakhstan’s capital.