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Outgoing U.S. Ambassador Reflects on Time in Office

Published: February 6, 2014 (Issue # 1796)



  • U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, who on Tuesday announced his decision to quit his post.
    Photo: M. Stulov / Vedomosti

U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul — who announced that he would return to California at the end of February — has opened up about his time on the job, lamenting his inability to quell concerns that the U.S. wants to incite revolution on Russian soil.

McFaul — who is moving back to the U.S. to spend more time with his family — said that he had earlier never dreamed of going into diplomacy, let alone becoming an ambassador, and that he only moved to Moscow because U.S. President Barack Obama had asked him to take up the position, Interfax reported.

Related: New U.S. Ambassador, Michael McFaul, Arrives to Keep ‘Reset’ Alive

His relocation to Russia in January 2012 came at a turbulent time, with mass protests against perceived electoral fraud in State Duma elections gripping the streets of Moscow. McFaul believes his willingness to engage with the opposition at this time led to the enactment of a negative campaign against both himself and the U.S. by the state-controlled press.

"I can certainly say that some people in Russia want to use anti-American sentiment to discredit the opposition. I was part of their plan. It is obvious. And it has nothing to do with what I was doing or what I did." McFaul said, Kommersant reported.

President Vladimir Putin has previously accused the U.S State Department of encouraging the December and January 2011-2012 protests, and McFaul added that one of his greatest failures as ambassador was his inability " to completely destroy that myth that the U.S. only wants to organize a revolution in Russia and destabilize it … it's bad for U.S.-Russia relations."

Related: McFaul and State Department Respond to Attack

In a bid to change the perception of American people, McFaul has embarked on a campaign of public diplomacy during his time as ambassador — hosting jazz parties at the U.S. Embassy residence and communicating with the public via accounts on Twitter and Facebook. He says he will miss those aspects of the job.

McFaul will travel to Sochi on Thursday, one day ahead of the Winter Olympic Games' opening ceremony.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Sept. 19


SPIBA’s newest addition to their Cultural Discoveries events is “Handmade in Germany,” an exhibition featuring unique handmade objects of a significantly higher quality than mass-produced items. The work of over 100 German manufacturers will be displayed during the event, which opens today in the Lutheran Church of Saint Peter and Paul on Nevsky Prospekt and runs through Sept. 28.



Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during today’s “Djembe and Vuvuzela,” a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of today’s round table discussion on “Interaction with Trade Unions” being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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