- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 19, 2012

RUSSIA TV ATTACKS U.S. ENVOY

Russian state television this week denounced U.S. Ambassador Michael A. McFaul after the American envoy met with political opposition leaders in Moscow.

“The fact is that McFaul is not an expert on Russia. He is a specialist purely in the promotion of democracy,” said commentator Mikhail Leontyev on Russia’s Channel One television.

The broadcaster also suggested the ambassador, who took up his post on Monday, had links to U.S. spy agencies through his earlier work with the Washington-based National Democratic Institute (NDI), according to reporters in Moscow.

Mr. McFaul was the “representative in Russia for the NDI, which is known for being close to the American secret services,” Mr. Leontyev claimed.

Kathy Gest, a spokeswoman for at the NDI, which is associated with the Democratic Party, scoffed at the accusation.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” she said. “It is a falsehood.”

Mr. McFaul appeared to dismiss the attack in a posting on his Twitter account.

“No word about the three years of ‘reset,’ ” he said, referring to President Obama’s policy in U.S.-Russian relations.

Mr. McFaul is widely regarded as one of the administration’s top specialists on Russia. He is a former senior director for Russian affairs at the National Security Council and has written widely on Russian issues.

Mr. Leontyev claimed Mr. McFaul has written many articles critical of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is running for a third term as president in March.

He specifically cited Mr. McFaul’s 2001 book, “An Unfinished Revolution in Russia: The Political Change From Gorbachev to Putin.”

“Has McFaul arrived in Russia to work in the speciality? That is, finish the revolution,” Mr. Leontyev said.

Mr. McFaul met Tuesday with civic leaders and representatives of the Communist, Just Russia, People’s Freedom and Yabloko parties.

“We had an informal conversation about the state of civil society in our country, about human-rights violations and the problems that we have,” human-rights activist Lev Ponomarev told Russia’s Interfax news.

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