Interview with Aleksandr Pikaev
Russia Today: Did President Putin's words mean what the New York Times and other Western media interpreted as saying that Russia is increasing its “spying” abroad?
Alexander Pikaev: I would say not necessarily so, because what Mr Putin said is to increase capabilities of the Russian Foreign Intelligence in the area, above all, of informational and analytical support for the Russian leadership. All experts on intelligence know very well that major information is gathered from newspapers and other media. And of course agents in foreign countries are one of the most important sources of information, but that's just one of them. So not necessarily did Mr Putin mean increasing “spying.” He meant about overall information-gathering and analytical capabilities, and, of course, analytical capabilities have nothing to do with spying because the gathered information is analyzed in Moscow headquarters of the Foreign Intelligence and, I believe, not by Russian spies abroad.
RT: Why is there a feeling that national security has to be increased?
A.P.: Well, Mr Putin believes that currently Russia faces many threats, and the threats are coming not only from international terrorism, as Mr Putin said before. This time, he stressed that the threat is also coming from the military ambitions of the U.S., from the U.S. efforts to deploy American forces and American bases in Central Europe, including missile defence systems, and therefore the Russian government needs to know the situation much better, and it needs more information and more analysis, because otherwise the national security might be in jeopardy.
RT: Presumably the Foreign Intelligence Service would operate in no other way than an Intelligence Service from any other country, or perhaps maybe the activities of the Foreign Intelligence Service are viewed with some suspicion from the Western quarters?
A.P.: Well, there are several anti-Russian clichés in the West, including that Russia is increasing its spying in the West. Well, Russians are always saying that they are “doing nothing else” other than what the Western nations are doing in Russia. We have many spy cases in Russia. We have our counter-intelligence claims that foreign spying in Russia is on the increase, and Russia has to respond to that.
RT: Why do you think there are all these prejudices from the Western media towards Russia? Are they because of the current diplomatic crisis going on between Britain and Russia, and also perhaps, did the tensions between Russia and the U.S. create these prejudices?
A.P.: Well, I do not think so. I think that problem is much more general. The problem is that Russia is resurging; Russia is coming back onto the international arena as an influential power, and it is difficult to adapt to that for some Western nations, first of all for the U.S. and Britain, and therefore this anti-Russian media campaign is aimed to undermine the Russian image, and to discredit Russia in the eyes of its potential political partners, and investors into the Russian economy. So, this is one of the forms of warfare, non-military warfare, which is aimed at undermining Russian positions and making it weaker.