The Kremlin has ordered Russian media to dial down its effusive coverage of Pres. Donald Trump now that he is proving to be more unpredictable and potentially less pro-Russian than they expected.
Bloomberg Politics spoke with three individuals familiar with the edict who all confirmed that the tide of positive Trump coverage that began during his 2016 campaign is ebbing as Pres. Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin become less confident that Trump will reliably act in their interests.
"The order marks a stark turnaround from just a few weeks ago. Trump’s unexpected triumph over Hillary Clinton in November has been widely hailed in Russia as the beginning of a new era of cooperation between the former Cold War foes. Trump’s campaign was watched with rapture as news anchors gushed over the novelty of hearing an American presidential candidate praise Putin," wrote Bloomberg's Irina Reznik, Stepan Kravchenko, Ilya Arkhipov.
“They won’t pour buckets of criticism on Trump, they just won’t talk about him much,” said Konstantin von Eggert of Russia's only independent TV channel TV Rain to Bloomberg. “The fate of Russia-American relations is much less predictable than it was just a few weeks ago.”
In Washington, U.S. lawmakers are gearing up to thoroughly investigate Trump's relationship with the Russian government, including the nature of the contact between campaign aides and Russian intelligence agencies -- agencies that are now known to have attempted to sway the election in Trump's favor.
Furthermore, the sources said, Putin is unhappy that Trump is cutting into the amount of time Russia state-run media spend praising his administration.
"In January, Trump received more mentions in the media than Putin, relegating the Russian leader to the No. 2 spot for the first time since he returned to the Kremlin in 2012 after four years as premier, according to Interfax data," said Bloomberg.
Trump's national security adviser Gen. Mike Flynn stepped down this week over revelations that he had conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak about lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia before Pres. Trump was inaugurated. Flynn then went on to lie about those conversations to Vice President Mike Pence and the public, which ultimately cost him his position.
The Daily Beast reported Tuesday that Russian officials are furious over Flynn's resignation, saying that it's a sign that Trump has been co-opted by the "Washington establishment."
Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the foreign-affairs committee in the Russian parliament, called this “not just paranoia but something even worse.” On Facebook he wrote: “Either Trump hasn’t found the necessary independence and he’s been driven into a corner... or Russophobia has permeated the new administration from top to bottom.”
Another member of the Russian parliament, Alexei Pushkov, tweeted after the announcement: “It was not Flynn who was targeted but relations with Russia.” And then he really went on a rant:
“Flynn was ‘let go’ not because of his failure, but because of the aggressive ‘Russian for the Exit!’ newspaper noise; paranoia and witch hunt,” Pushkov tweeted. “Kicking out [Flynn] was the first act, the next target will be Trump himself.”