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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

Wednesday, Nov. 26


AmCham’s Public Relations Committee will meet this afternoon in their office in the New St. Isaac’s Office Center on Ulitsa Yakubovicha at 4 p.m.


Zoosphere, an international exhibition focusing on the pet industry, opens today at the Lenexpo convention center on Vasilievsky Island. Not only will items such as toys, terrariums and accessories be available for purchase, but animal enthusiasts can also learn about the latest in veterinary medicine and behavioral training thanks to the conferences and presentations that are part of the event.



Thursday, Nov. 27


The Customs and Transportation Committee for AmCham meets this morning at 9 a.m. in their office on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.


Tickets are still available for local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg’s showdown with Siberian club Metallurg Novokuznetsk tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Ice Palace outside the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. Tickets can be purchased on the team’s website, at the arena box office or in their merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.


Celebrate one of Russian literature’s most tragic figures during Blok Days, a two-day celebration of the 134th anniversary of the poet’s birthday. The tragic tenor’s work, which led to writer Maxim Gorky to hail him as Russia’s greatest living poet before his death in 1921, will be recited and meetings and discussions about his contributions to the Silver Age of literature in St. Petersburg will be discussed in the confines of his former residence.



Friday, Nov. 28


Join table game aficionados at the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test one’s intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only man’s best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during today’s reenactment titled “Winter War: How it Was.” More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie “Black Cat, White Cat,” as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of “Takoy Festival,” a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonight’s festival finale is “Fathers and Sons,” a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenev’s classic about familial relations.



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