O October 6, the FBI questioned a Russian lawmaker, Inga Yumasheva, when she landed in a New York airport to attend the Fort Ross Dialogue forum in California. Yumasheva is a member of the lower house of Russian parliament – known as State Duma. She coordinates relations with the US Congress.
According to the Russian embassy, Yumasheva was questioned for an hour. Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov said Yumasheva “was offered to meet with the FBI officer in a different, informal setting and to continue the conversation.”
The Russian Embassy in the United States sent a note of protest to the US State Department in response to this situation.
A similar situation happened in November 2018, when the FBI questioned a member of the Russian Civic Chamber, Alexander Malkevich, at a Washington airport after his trip to cover the midterm elections in the US. He came to the US as an observer of the November 6 elections in the US state of Maryland.
Malkevich is the head of USA Really, an English-language affiliate of the big Russian-language news agency, Riafan.
Both these cases got a wide coverage in Russian media and promoted Russian citizens involved. From Washington’s point of view, these ‘horrifying events’ were just cases of questioning of persons needed because of the specific of their work in the US.
However, by these actions, the US side added fuel to the fire of anti-US sentiments within the Russian media, and thus the Russian society.
This situation is further complicated by real diplomatic scandals involving the US. In September, Washington refused to issue visas to 10 members of a Russian delegation traveling to the United Nations General Assembly. This outrageous move was a real violation of international commitments. At the same time, there is a number of Russian citizens that were imprisoned or detained by the US out of political motivation and under evidence-free accusations.
It looks like somebody in the White House intentionally carries out a campaign to provide the Russian side with facts and evidence of US aggressive actions against it. This plays into the hands of Russian forces that are interested in exploiting an image of the foreign foe. The US itself is also actively exploiting images of foreign foes like Iran, Russia and China to achieve own political goals ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
If the version above is wrong, this short-sighted policy may be explained by the lack of consequences analysis or an excessive act by some local official.