Channel One, a state-owned Russian TV channel, has questioned the credentials of the new US ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul.
“The fact is that McFaul is not an expert on Russia,” said analyst Mikhail Leontev said (via the AP). “He is a specialist purely in the promotion of democracy.”
Of course, the last thing Russia wants right now is the promotion of democracy — allegations of fraud in December’s Duma elections were filmed and there have been numerous protests against Prime Minister (and Presidential ‘hopeful’) Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin has already accused the US of meddling in Russian affairs.
Of course, McFaul hasn’t really helped himself. His initial attempt at introducing himself to Russians with a YouTube video fell kind of flat when he didn’t speak Russian in it.
Secondly, on his second day on the job, video has emerged of Russian opposition visiting the US embassy in Moscow.
Thirdly, the former Stanford Professor has written books called “Russia’s Unfinished Revolution: Political Change from Gorbachev to Putin” and “Between Dictatorship and Democracy: Russian Post-Communist Political Reform”. You can guess why the Kremlin doesn’t like these.
Then, of course, his Twitter account may cause the Kremlin some cause for concern. His first Twitter response since becoming Ambassador was to the opposition leader Alexey Navelny. When asked about this by a BBC journalist, he responded “All in the open, all the time. Secrets only reinforce stereotypes. Cold war over long ago. Our time to do differently”.