In Moscow, the State Department’s offer of $10 million in exchange for evidence of Russian election interference rang hollow. The move was perceived not as a shark bite, but rather as a toothless scowl of the Trump administration—nothing more than an election-year propaganda stunt.
“Desperate much?” crowed the Kremlin-funded media outlet RT. “The State Department website will now be overwhelmed by people ratting out their neighbors,” quipped Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. For the benefit of Western audiences, Russian officials and state-sponsored media outlets mocked the idea of such a “bounty” as a ridiculous proposition—but on a domestic front, the State Department’s initiative was met with an obvious pushback, to make sure that no one gets any ideas.
State-controlled Russian media sprang into action, laboring to dissuade any potential takers of the tempting reward. Deputy of the Russian Duma Timofey Zhukov, who reported receiving a bounty text message mass-mailed by the State Department, appeared on Russia’s state TV news talk show 60 Minutes to deter Russian citizens from implicating the Kremlin. Zhukov exclaimed: “Russia is not for sale!”