Wednesday, September 03, 2014


U.S. Ambassador Complains Of Russian Eavesdropping

U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul says Russia's NTV journalists seem to be everywhere he goes.U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul says Russia's NTV journalists seem to be everywhere he goes.
U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul says Russia's NTV journalists seem to be everywhere he goes.
U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul says Russia's NTV journalists seem to be everywhere he goes.
U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul has questioned in a series of tweets how some Russian media seem to know all his plans.

McFaul said he meets crews from the NTV channel everywhere he goes.

"[I] wonder who gives them my calendar? They wouldn't tell me. Wonder what the laws are here for such things?" McFaul wrote on March 29.

"I respect the right of the press to go anywhere and ask any question. But do they have a right to read my e-mail and listen to my phone?"

Russian rights activist Lev Ponomaryov said that when McFaul came to visit the office of his group For Human Rights on March 29, there was a group of people outside his organization's office "who introduced themselves as reporters and others dressed like Cossacks" when McFaul arrived.

"They kept him [McFaul] outside for about 20 minutes and pestered him with questions," Ponomaryov said.

Ponomaryov said even when McFaul attempted to return to his car for a moment to get his overcoat the group would not let him through. Ponomaryov said McFaul asked the reporters, "How did you know I would come to this office today?" but received no response.  McFaul later noted NTV journalists similarly made no comment when, after a meeting with Rosnano chief Anatoly Chubais, McFaul found the NTV crew waiting for him.

Ponomaryov said that "this means these people had received the information in an operational way. This was not published." Ponomaryov said the meeting with McFaul had been arranged by telephone and conceded "I am 100 percent sure my telephone is tapped."

NTV posted on its website segments of the encounter with McFaul outside the For Human Rights office. NTV said it decided to post footage of the incident after seeing Ponomaryov's comments on the encounter outside his organization's office.

An NTV reporter asks McFaul what he intends to speak about with Ponomaryov. McFaul replies, "We're just going to meet" and says he and Ponomaryov will speak about "all kinds of questions." Later, as he still stands outside the building with a light snow falling, McFaul says Russia's ambassador to the U.S. is able to move around freely with no one "bothering his work" but "you [NTV] are always where I am" and the U.S. ambassador asks, "Aren't you ashamed to do this?"

The NTV reporter continues, asking, "Who among the opposition do you support?" McFaul answers, "I met with your president the day before yesterday. I support him also. Is this the logic? I meet with someone so [it means] I support them?"

NTV's press service explained to Russian news agency Interfax, "NTV's omnipresence can be explained by an extensive network of informers and anyone in this country is aware of this." NTV further stated, "We often shoot without any purpose, just for archives. Suppose the footage will be needed one day."
Based on reporting by AP, ITAR-TASS, Interfax, and NTV
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Comment Sorting
by: Yuri Panchul from: Sunnyvale, California
March 30, 2012 02:16
This article does not tell the whole story. Specifically, Michael McFaul used the expression "дикая страна" that in this particular context means "the country of savages". Various media is trying to downplay the episode by translating it as "barbarian country", "wild country" or not translating it at all. But in my opinion, usage of this expression by the US Ambassador in Russia is an approximate equivalent of using N-word by any US politician in the US.

Ironically, McFaul may learn this expression from one of so-called Russian "oppozitsioner", opportunistic self-appointed advocates of American way of life in Russia. Usually this kind of people are pretty clueless about the real life. For example, one of them. Novodvorskaya, believed there were no economic crises in the US until "socialistic reforms" of XX century. This kind of people wants to be backed by the US so they meet American politicians and tell them various stories about how bad the Russians are (except, of course those "oppozitsioners"). "Дикая страна" is one of the expressions those confused "oppozitsioner" people use to describe their own country and their own culture.

US Ambassor should never ever ever use that expression.
In Response

by: Igor Stanislavsky from: Mountain View, California
March 30, 2012 15:54
Yuri, you are absolutely correct. Calling someone "dikaya strana" is one of the most ungrateful obscenities, not just in thee Russian language but in any language that has ever been spoken on the face of the Earth. This type of conduct must be punished swiftly and harshly. As a Ukrainian-born Jew, I would rather be called "zhid" or "kike" any day than have the country next to the country I used to reluctanctly call home be called "dikaya strana."
In Response

by: Eli from: Park City, UT
March 31, 2012 00:54
About "zhid", I don't think so.. You lost me right there..
And Russia is "dikaya" strana...otherwise what are you doing here in CA... so you can not have both ways, OK!!
The issue is not about dikaya or not dikaya is about the diplomatic manners..
In Response

by: Ilya
April 01, 2012 03:54
Russia's high culture is obviously among the most advanced in the world. But its political culture and political system is absolutely dikaya.

by: Anonymous from: USA
March 30, 2012 02:41
Interesting story. The US should retaliate by sending agents around to follow Russia's ambassador. Tap their phones too. Maybe we might discover another 10 Russians living in the US illegally with stolen identities. Russians don't like to receive what they give out to others. If they want to play games, we can play too...
In Response

by: rick from: milan
March 31, 2012 21:47
Is Russian ambassador in USa

having meeting with "occupy wall street" organization ?
In Response

by: Ilya
April 01, 2012 15:02
No, he's probably afraid they'd rape and kill him and defecate on his car.

The Kremlin does fund a whole tv channel in the US, which has broadcast a lot of pro-occupy propaganda.

by: Anonymous from: USA
March 30, 2012 22:09
Yuri, the ambassador apologized for his language. His Russian, as is well know, not the greatest. I have heard Russians use terms like "Negro" not realizing that it's offensive. One way or the other, it does not negate NTV's conduct or answer the ambassador's questions that he has for them. Igor, the fact that the US embassy people meet with certain people does not mean that they agree with what they say let alone support their views. It is a diplomat's job to get a read on the politics of the country they are in. I wouldn't assume that a Russian diplomat trying to learn what Rick Santorum is about is agreeing or supporting Santorum. This is the point the ambassador is making and it seems to be one that you still don't understand.

by: Demetrius Minneapolis from: My House
March 30, 2012 22:21
They spy on us, we spy on them. It's sort of an understanding we mutually share.
PS-Barbarians? Savages? In general context, what's the difference?

by: john from: canada
March 31, 2012 19:16
Apparently, McFaul's tweets plus Russian MFA publishing McFaul's schedule help the press track him, according to JaceFosterInk ‏ @jeresponderay:

Russian government helping reporters track U.S. ambassador?
In Response

by: Catherine Fitzpatrick
April 01, 2012 00:40
No, McFaul has said very specifically on Facebook that he did not post his schedule on Twitter, that's fake.

So how did the Russian government get it? The Cable quotes Jace Foster "Your schedule is fair game. We know it because Russian consulate watches you & releases your schedule," she tweeted. "Russia watches your Twitter account too, which is open to the public. Surely you know this."

He didn't tweet it. And the Russian consulate watches And releases To whom?

This hasn't just happened once, as he explained, but multiple times, where he emerges from meetings and finds Nashi, Cossacks, NTV, whatever dogging his every step.

As Lev Ponomaryev pointed out, the FSB must be tapping his phone, and that's how they could find out about the meeting. It was not broadcast ahead of time anywhere. And sure, the Russian FSB obviously monitors diplomats; the question is how/whether they leak this or simply hand this to state media.
In Response

by: Mamuka
April 01, 2012 05:42
Nichego osobenno. The Ambassador was foolish to call attention to this behavior. What did he expect? Maybe there can be a reset with NTV now.

by: rick from: milan
March 31, 2012 21:39
took the cat
with the mouse in his mouth

by: Catherine Fitzpatrick from: New York
April 01, 2012 00:30
McFaul's comment, in context, actually meant something like this: "It's a wild country where such things happen" as a KGB operation pretending to be a news crew -- or where state television doesn't even have any self-awareness anymore than it is behaving like a KGB surveillance team. And indeed it is.

It's fine to say "dikaya strana" because it captures the notion that the KGB's successors can pose as aggressive journalists -- not only engaging in a subterfuge but deliberately erasing the boundaries between legitimate civil society and cunning secret police work. That is savagery. The sheer, dense sullen nastiness of that Surkov propaganda machine going around and bullying and harassing people while pretending they are a "news crew" really is *diko*.

Yuri Panchul claims that just because people don't agree with his view of Russia that they are translating a phrase wrong. The intellectuals aren't such a minority. They've recently put in more of a showing than anyone would have imagined.

McFaul did a good thing in confronting those goons.

by: john from: canada
April 01, 2012 12:46
Kim Zigfeld comments are quite harsh against McFaul and Obama actions: "Why did McFaul speak to reporters in Russian if he doesn't know the language well enough? Why do posters and uniforms and cameras so easily fluster our man in Moscow? Why was he sent to represent his country if he doesn't know how to do his job? Can America afford on-the-job training for such a critical position?

Ouch! - Zigfeld gets even more critical. Who is he/she?

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