MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian news agency is quoting a Washington-based Russian cultural exchange official suspected as denying that he is a spy.

A source in Washington has told The Associated Press that the FBI is looking into whether Yury Zaitsev, the head of a Russian government-run cultural exchange program, tried to recruit young Americans as intelligence assets. The probe was first reported by the magazine Mother Jones.

Zaitsev dismissed the accusations as an attempt to hurt ties between Moscow and Washington. Russia's Itar-Tass news agency quoted him as saying, "It's a shame that echoes of the Cold War are heard in Russian-American relations from time to time."

A spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Washington also denied the suspicions, telling Itar-Tass that "such horror stories smack of Cold War times."