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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

Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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