The new U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul is either a cunning fox, cleverly masking his true purpose, or a provocateur sent overseas by the US State Department with the goal to discredit the Russian opposition.
One of the authors of the idea of a "reset" of the US-Russian relations, the U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, speaking in Washington at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, made a number of statements that can be classified as scandalous.
This week members of the U.S. House of Representatives will begin consideration of the repeal of Jackson-Vanik amendment. The United States has a number of different opinions on this issue. Some have long been willing to forget past grievances, others believe that the U.S. should not override the foreign trade correction restrictive with respect to Russia "as a punishment" for violations of human rights and, specifically, in connection with the death of a lawyer Magnitsky.
McFaul has had his own point of view on this issue, which will be of interest not only to Americans, but Russians as well. "We are not going to claim that Russia is a more democratic country than you think," he said, emphasizing that it is wrong to consider Russia's accession to the WTO, as well as the abolition of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, "a gift to Russia." Both items are in the interests of the United States and American business. If the amendment is preserved, it will put American businesses at a disadvantage compared with competitors.
Thus, Mr. McFaul killed two or even three birds with one stone. He explained the need to repeal the amendment to the most stubborn Russophobes, explained to the Russian audience the reason why the U.S. will make a historic act of good will and, finally, explained to the public the cause of the letters of the Russian opposition to the American congressmen asking to revoke the amendment.
This letter was published in the blog of one of the signers - the leader of the Democratic Choice Vladimir Milov. In addition, the letter was signed by the leaders of the Party of National Freedom (Parnassus) Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Ryzhkov, as well as Sergei Aleksashenko and blogger Alexei Navalny. The authors of the letter, just like McFaul, argue that the preservation of the amendment will not help the development of democracy in Russia. But, in contrast to the ambassador, wrote that maintaining the current status "limits Russia's competitiveness in international markets," preventing it from becoming a country with a developed and high-tech economy. It is understandable why the U.S. Congress upon receipt of the appeal perceived it with some surprise, resulting in McFaul having to speak openly.
In a burst of candor Michael McFaul admitted that the United States will continue to work "on other measures aimed at ensuring the rule of law in Russia and strengthening of civil society in Russia." He said that they have proposed to Congress to create a new fund for assistance to Russian NGOs. He added that to do something constructive, we should focus on such things instead of building strange links with the Jackson-Vanik Amendment.
Offhand, there is nothing wrong with the emergence of another center. After all, there are branches of IRI, NDI and other entities acting on behalf of the U.S. State Department in Russia. As the presenter Mikhail Leontiev said, the United States have long been working in Russia in support of democracy, in particular, holding seminars, training courses for young managers, social workers and journalists. "There are organization developing the Internet, they are engaged in training of regional journalists, development of local government, training of young leaders, training managers, social workers and so on. These are chains of seminars, inviting people to study, recruitment, and numerous environmental organizations," he said in an interview to ER.ru. It would seem that the emergence of another structure would not change anything.
However, this is not the case. An independent institution or charity is one thing, and an administration center with well-defined goals established by the White House is another. Actually, this is what the leader of "Apple" Sergei Mitrokhin said: "I think it's not really the right idea. There is no need in special centers of foreign aid to civil society in our country. You cannot create a civil society in the country from outside," he said to Interfax, adding that the creation of such a center would compromise the civil society in the eyes of the authorities.
By "civil society" Sergei Mitrokhin, apparently, means himself and other organizers and participants of meetings "for Fair Elections," who used to run to the American Embassy under every pretext. Generally, the discrediting is complete and unconditional.
On the other hand, the Americans are doing the right thing. If we are striving for democracy and transparency in relations both in business and politics, why does the opposition think it necessary to conceal its relationship with its customer if their joint activities are aimed solely at promoting democracy?
More than 3,500 people were detained during unprecedented mass protests that swept across all of Russia in support of Alexey Navalny on January 23