Voices from Russia

Thursday, 10 November 2016

McFaul Fail: Former US Ambassador to Russia Can’t Wrap Head Around Trump

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Trump is many things… but he’s not the Tribune of the Evangelicals… thank the good God…

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Donald Trump’s stunning upset in the US elections Tuesday night prompted an almost endless source of telling reactions from people from all walks of life and corners of the globe. Former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul is just one of them. McFaul, who resigned from that post in 2014, was active on Twitter on election night. Moments before the vote count was in, he tweeted, presumably sarcastically:

If Trumps wins, I’ll be first to congratulate him.

After the announcement that Trump was the president-elect, McFaul did congratulate the mogul-turned-reality-TV-star-turned-US-president:

Congratulations President-elect Trump.

McFaul’s next tweet was:

I’m in shock, but the American people have spoken.

Apparently, that shock is what prompted what came next. At first, McFaul seemed coherent, even posting some ideas on foreign policy:

Biggest loser in the world tonight is the Ukraine. Your only hope is to get really serious about reform and keep Euros supportive.

It’s hard to argue with that, given that US Vice President Joseph Biden, known for his close contact with Ukrainian President Poroshenko, is on his way out, no doubt along with other Obama Administration officials behind that country’s coup. Perhaps, concrete predictions are unwise now, but Trump said enough during his campaign to suggest that the USA is likely to reduce its intervention in other states’ internal affairs. Then, things got weird. Two hours after the vote count was over, McFaul congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan, Sputnik International (thanks, Ambassador!), and activist Mariya Katasonova, with the Trump victory. We don’t know exactly why he picked that particular cast of characters, although in his acceptance speech, Trump did set something of a peacemaking tone:

We’ll seek common ground, not hostility. Partnership, not conflict.

Putin expressed a willingness to work together to improve bilateral relations with Washington, and perhaps Trump’s victory does indicate international tensions, perpetually tightened over the course of Obama’s presidency, may loosen. As for Sputnik, we’re flattered, but we think you misplaced your congrats. Dear Ambassador McFaul, Sputnik News Agency didn’t work on behalf of Donald Trump’s victory, so, whilst we appreciate the credit, we certainly don’t deserve anything of the sort. With the US mainstream media praising ad nauseam Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, lulling the American public into a false sense of security in a Clinton win, we were only doing our jobs… telling the untold. Thanks to the selective approach taken by many of our colleagues in the States, we are never very short of things to tell. Evidently, however, McFaul meant to lump Sputnik into Russia’s alleged meddling in the US presidential election. The former envoy tweeted, then deleted… but not before a number of people responded:

Putin intervened in our elections and succeeded. [Good job].

Simonyan’s reply was:

Doctor, you flatter me.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Mariya Zakharova was more thorough in a response on Facebook:

First, the Obama Administration appointed these “McFauls” to positions of responsibility, and entrusted to them the management of not only their own country, but many vassal states, and when the situation came to stalemate, it started shouting that Moscow is to blame for everything.

After McFaul deleted his post, he claimed that he had heard “better arguments”, and that “facts and logic matter to him”. After a massive campaign to blame Russia, without evidence, of interfering in the race, we’re not so sure about those facts and logic to which you refer, Mr Ambassador.

10 November 2016

Sputnik International

https://sputniknews.com/politics/201611101047272172-mcfaul-trump-victory-fail/

Saturday, 20 August 2016

No, Ambassador McFaul: Putin Didn’t Order Me to Fall in Love with Donald Trump

00 Russian caricature of Michael McFaul. 06.12

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Former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul penned a scathing piece in the Washington Post accusing the Kremlin of intervening in the American election, based solely on the evidence of a harsh article regarding Clinton published by Sputnik News. Boy, was he wrong! My name is Bill Moran. A native Arizonan, I’ve worked on dozens of Democratic Party campaigns, and am more recently a proud writer for Sputnik’s Washington DC bureau. It seems that as of Thursday morning that I’m a source of controversy between the USA and Russia… something that I never quite could’ve imagined… for writing an article that was critical of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with a stinging headline, and a harsh hashtag.

So, what is this controversy all about? This weekend I published a piece with the headline, Secret File Confirms Trump Claim… Obama and Hillary “Founded ISIS” to Oust Assad. I also tweeted out this story from our platform with the hashtag #CrookedHillary. Guilty as charged. On Wednesday night, McFaul took to the Washington Post to opine that the article was part of a Kremlin-led conspiracy to subvert the American election, referring to the person running the Sputnik Twitter account (that particular day being me) as a “Russian official”, before warning (threatening) that we “might want to think about what we plan to do” if Clinton becomes president.

I feel it is necessary to pause, here, before having a substantive argument about the article’s merits and purpose within the public discourse, to address the severity of the accusation levelled against me and Sputnik’s staff (not by name until now), and its disturbing implications on freedom of speech, dissent, and American democracy… implications that I hope that Mr McFaul, other public proponents of the Hillary campaign, and the cadre of Russian critics consider. Pursuant to 18 US Code Chapter 115, I’d be writing this article to you from prison, if not awaiting a death sentence, if I were writing content ordered down to me by the Kremlin with a view towards subverting the American election. Instead, I’m writing this piece from my favourite coffeeshop in downtown DC. I’m not a Russian official. Our staff members aren’t Russian officials. We aren’t Kremlin controlled. We don’t speak with Vladimir Putin over our morning coffee.

Mr McFaul worked side-by-side with the former Secretary of State in the Obama Administration, and his routine accusations that Trump supporters are siding with Putin leaves me to imagine that he’s a Clinton insider if not a direct campaign surrogate. That such a public official would suggest reprisals against those with differing viewpoints in the event that she wins is disturbing. Our outlet doesn’t endorse or support any particular US presidential candidate, but rather reports news and views for the day in as diligent a manner as we possibly can. This is clear in our very harsh headlines on Trump, which Mr McFaul failed to review before making his attack.

On Friday morning, in fact, the Atlantic Council’s Ben Nimmo issued a completely different view, calling our coverage “uncharacteristically balanced”, but arguing that, because we report generally negative stories on both candidates, our real target is American democracy itself. It may surprise Messrs McFaul and Nimmo to learn that, in my previous work on political campaigns, I actually helped fundraise for Hillary Clinton… the candidate whose inner circle is now labelling my colleagues and I as foreign saboteurs. It’s not my fault nor Sputnik’s fault that Secretary Clinton’s campaign has devolved into one predicated upon fear and conspiracy, where the two primary lines are “the Russians did it” and that she isn’t Trump.

Donald Trump has the lowest approval rating since presidential polling began. Until recently, Clinton had the second lowest approval rating since presidential polling began. Their numbers are worse than even Barry Goldwater and George Wallace, in fact. The fact that more than 50 percent of the country dislikes both presidential candidates isn’t a Kremlin conspiracy. Would it be appropriate for us to present to our readers an alternate universe à la MSNBC, which defended Clinton’s trustworthiness by saying she only perjured herself three times? Why have both presidential candidates received less than fawning coverage from our outlet? They haven’t done anything to warrant positive coverage. My colleagues, also Americans, like so many others in this country, wish they would. Let’s return to the substance of the article to which Mr McFaul took exception. We wrote this piece because it was newsworthy… it informed our readers and forced them to think. The provocative headline of the story came from a statement by Trump that’s a bit of a stretch (notice the air quotes on the title), but which highlighted a major policy decision made by this administration that wasn’t properly scrutinised by the mainstream media. In the article, for those who actually read it, I refer to the 2012 DNI report that correctly calculated that Obama’s policy in Syria would lead to the development of a Salafist entity controlling territory and that this outcome was “wanted”. Hence, the title.

Today, the Obama Administration grapples with a similar debate over whether to continue to support the “moderate rebels” in Syria, despite the fact that they’ve now melded with al-Nusra (an al-Qaeda affiliate until they rebranded), under the banner of the Army of Conquest in Syria. We don’t pretend that these decisions exist in a vacuüm with a clear right and wrong answer upon which no two intelligent people differ, but this is a matter worthy of public discourse. What about that hashtag? Why would I use #CrookedHillary? I mean, I could’ve put #Imwithher, but I wasn’t trying to be ironic. When you feature a hashtag at the end of a sentence, its purpose is for cataloguing. Some people, usually non-millennials, use hashtags as text to convey a particular opinion. I wasn’t doing that. I also used #NeverTrump in a separate article. However, Mr McFaul lazily cherry-picked, and then labelled (maybe unwittingly) Sputnik’s American writers traitors to this country. Personally, I expect an apology for that.

20 August 2016

Sputnik International

http://sputniknews.com/analysis/20160820/1044451585/McFaul-Putin-Trump.html

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Alleged Unmasked CIA Agent Leaves Moscow

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NTV television reported that Ryan Fogle, the man Russia’s security services claimed to have captured last week as he tried to recruit a Russian to spy for the USA, left Russia on Sunday, saying that Fogle checked in on a flight at Sheremetyevo airport. Earlier, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MID) declared that Fogle, a Third Secretary at the US Embassy in Moscow, was persona non grata for “activity incompatible with his diplomatic status”, and instructed him to leave Russia by 20 May. Last Tuesday, the FSB claimed to have detained Fogle in the act of meeting a Russian special services operative, and offering him up to 1 million USD (31.5 million Roubles. 780,000 Euros. 660,000 UK Pounds) a year to spy for them. On Wednesday, the MID summoned US Ambassador Michael McFaul to formally protest Fogle’s activities. He declined to comment to the media on the incident. On Friday, a Russian intelligence agency publicly identified an individual that it claimed was the Moscow Station Chief of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as of late 2011, a move widely seen as a breach of protocol in intelligence circles.

19 May 2013

RIA-Novosti

http://en.rian.ru/russia/20130519/181239596/Alleged-Unmasked-CIA-Agent-Leaves-Moscow.html

Editor’s Note:

This smells more like intra-Russian infighting than it does Cold War tit-for-tat. The leftists have made common cause with the siloviki… and the pro-Western “liberals” {that is, libertarian Free Market buccaneers: editor} are Shit Out of Luck. Fogle was set up and he was stupid enough to fall for it. He was just the usual overeducated dweeb with an overinflated sense of self-worth. He was caught out… I still believe that he was a “roll yer own” operator, not a formally-trained Langley operative. What he did went against all the basic principles of spycraft… a real intel operator wouldn’t have carried what he had on his person or have done what he did.

VVP’s turning both “left” and “right”… he’s reaching for the legacy of both the Russian Empire and the USSR. This incident was “ready-made” for those who wish to discredit the Americans and those who wish to emulate them (mostly found in VERY small circles at the Centre and in Piter). In fact, it was rather too “convenient”… that is, this was more Sturm und Drang for a domestic audience than it was an actual nicking of a real spy. If Fogle were the real deal, they’d still be interrogating him, then, they’d have a show trial before shipping him off to Correctional Colony 1313 in the Sakha Republic to bust rocks under the Arctic Sun alongside Khodorkovsky.

However, here’s what perspirin’ minds wanna know… is there gonna be movement on l’Affaire Bout/Yaroshenko cuz Russia let Fogle fly free as a bird (sorry… I couldn’t resist the pun)? Hmm… could be…

BMD

Friday, 26 April 2013

Foreign NGOs: “Philanthropists” with Hidden Agendas

01 Fat Uncle Sam

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The recent disputes over NGOs operating in Russia financed from abroad rage on as the parties concerned doggedly repeat their own arguments without listening to what the other side has to say. Members of the Human Rights Centre “Memorial”, founded by the late academician Andrei Sakharov, and liberal {that is, “conservative” in Anglosphere terms: editor} Western media outlets keep pointing up the sinister meaning the expression “foreign agent” had under Stalin. In turn, critics of anti-Putin NGOs say that Russian law only imitates the US Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, which is still in force and in operation. For the younger generation, all this could seem somewhat dated… Stalin died 60 years ago, in 1953, whilst the Foreign Agents Registration Act became law shortly before World War II. Even the oldest of those taking part in the current NGO-related disputes were little kids back then.

More recently, ex-Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze… a respected political figure in the West… accused the Open Society Foundation (OSF) (an NGO funded by George Soros) and Georgian NGOs affiliated to it of orchestrating the 2003 coup that brought Mikhail Saakashvili to power. Curiously, US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, who’s keen on seeing Russia repent for Stalinism, doesn’t intend to admit America‘s wrongdoings himself. Maksim Grigoriev, a member of the RF Public Chamber, said that McFaul, in a speech to the Public Chamber, said that he felt no need to be sorry for the USA having a hand in the Georgian coup, or, in hiring intelligence experts to work for American NGOs based in post-Soviet republics, including Russia.

The post-Soviet space offers a wide range of opportunities for American-funded NGOs, which arrived only in the 1990s. In the 1970s and 1980s, the same American groups operated in Latin America, and before that, in the Middle East. In what is seen as a “quiet revolution in American official history”, former US President Bill Clinton acknowledged the role of the CIA in orchestrating the 1973 coup in Chile, whilst Barack Obama spilled the beans on the American part in staging the Iranian coup of 1953 that toppled the progressive government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh. Coincidentally or not, at the time of the coups, American “charitable” bodies operated in both countries.

Grigoriev, who also runs the Democracy Research Foundation, said, “Assurances from pro-western NGOs that their activities have nothing to do with politics are all lies. They pursue political goals and coordinate their operations with foreign governments. However, this doesn’t mean that we should label them as ‘foreign spies’. Even though these organisations receive funds from abroad, they pose no danger if their operations are transparent and clear”.

Grigoriev is certainly right. The world that we live in is an open space where public likes and dislikes travel freely across borders. The negative attitudes in the EU and the USA to some highly-placed Russian politicians are well-known, and one could feel them during President Putin’s recent visit to Germany and the Netherlands. These attitudes are bound to have minority support in Russia… at least, amidst the liberal-minded intelligentsia {that is, amongst “libertarians” in American terms: editor}. Nevertheless, whatever happens, Russia can’t afford any more revolutions… its first, and foremost, priority is to avoid upheavals. Therefore, “philanthropists” with hidden agendas will have to come clean on the real aims of their activities.

11 April 2013

Dmitri Babich

Voice of Russia World Service

http://english.ruvr.ru/2013_04_11/NGOs-suitcases-with-false-bottoms/

Editor’s Note:

Do note that the author points up that US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul is “keen on seeing Russia repent for Stalinism”. Hmm… that puts the anti-Stalin screed on the ROCOR official website in a new light, doesn’t it? Does this mean that certain parties in the ROCOR are back on Langley‘s payroll (after all, Alexander Lebedeff said, “We were grateful for the money”)? Does this mean that certain parties lied about their purported change of heart? You pays your money and you takes your choice… but I’d say that the trail’s rather clear. Sad, ain’t it? Don’t forget Potapov’s mean-spirited and objectively-false comments about Patriarch Aleksei Ridiger in the Nasty ’90s (at the Georgetown shindig… remember that?)… did he had a real change of heart or was it a case of “Paris is well worth a mass?” Interesting question…

BMD

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