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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

Tuesday, Jan. 27


Celebrate the 71st anniversary of the end of the Siege of Leningrad on Palace Square with a free concert at 7 p.m. Listen to WWII-era songs and the poetry of Olga Bergholz while you peruse outdoor exhibitions dedicated to life during wartime. The event is capped off by a fireworks display at 9 p.m.



Stop by the Lexica School of Foreign Languages at 73 Ligovsky Prospekt from now until Friday for a free English lesson. The classes start at 7 p.m. and cover all levels, from Beginner to Advanced. Registration by telephone on 7641692 and a desire to improve your skills are the only prerequisites.



Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café — 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



Learn everything you always wanted to know about wine, and perhaps a bit more, at the Le Nez du Vin seminar for wine lovers. Held at the WineJet Sommelier School, 100 Bolshoy Prospekt Petrograd Side, at 7:30 p.m., the event will cover wine production, the basics of wine tasting, the concept of terroir and the various countries where wine is produced. Tickets are 750 rubles and include a wine tasting. Register by calling +7 921 744 6264.



Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekov's book will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.





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