Having run out of American ones (and being in Russia, where I’m supposed to be practicing Russian), I went on a Yandex hunt for the best of Russian spy movies. I wound up at “What’s the first letter in Motherland,” which sounds pretty much like The Americans, except, well, about Russians. It’s a new show (2014) released on the government-run Channel 1.

At the beginning, there’s the usual disclaimer: “All actions and characters are figments of the creators’ imaginations. Any resemblance to real people or events is purely coincidental.”

I highly recommend watching the first two minutes–to give the illusion of authenticity, it was recorded in English and then dubbed, so if you try, you’ll be able to understand it..

If you’re not going to watch, then here’s what happens. It’s June 2013, and a former CIA officer named James Snow (who, unlike John Snow, appears to have known something) has just revealed that the US was recording phone calls among its own citizens as well as world leaders, news which leads to a diplomatic crisis and causes Snow to flee the country.

The first scene features a purported professor of “Oxbridge University,” who, despite his apparently English affilation and stereotpyically English name (Johnathan Chadwick), speaks with a strong Russian accent–as he suggests that in response to the leak, the US will stir up trouble abroad to distract people, most likely creating unrest in a former Soviet satellite republic.

Coincidental, you say? I think it would have been less obvious if the show had featured Shmedmard Shmowden releasing secrets about the Shmobama administration and then fleeing to Shmoscow.

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