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US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul to resign end of February

February 04, 2014, 16:54 UTC+3
"After 7 months of separation, I simply need to be with my family," the diplomat said
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© ITAR-TASS/Valery Sharifulin

MOSCOW, February 4. /ITAR-TASS/. US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul stated that he would leave his post end of February on his official Twitter account.

“Very sad to announce my departure later this month. I will miss Russia and its people,” the ambassador wrote.

“After 7 months of separation, I simply need to be with my family. A 9,000 km commute just doesn’t work,” McFaul added.

“This is my last blog as the U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation.  Soon after the Olympics, I plan to rejoin my family in California. After more than five years working in the Obama administration, it is time to go home,” Michael McFaul noted in his Livejournal blog.

Head of US diplomatic mission explained his decision by a longtime separation with his wife and sons that are currently in the US. “Last summer, my wife and two sons moved back to California. We tried to make a 9,000 kilometer commute work for our family. But after seven months of separation, I simply need to be with my family again,” McFaul wrote.

“I will miss interacting with my partners in the Russian government and with Russians from all sectors of society and business. And I will deeply miss being a member of a fantastic team at the U.S. Embassy,” the diplomat confessed. “But I also will leave with a feeling of accomplishment.  Since we set out to reset relations with Russia five years ago (yes, I am not afraid to use the word “reset”!), we have achieved a lot.”


Michael McFaul’s achievements


Among such achievements Michael McFaul named the new Treaty on Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START), partnership in Afghanistan, cooperation in countering terrorism and cyber threats, as well as accords on Syrian chemical weapons elimination.

The ambassador assured that he would continue contributing to strengthening ties between business and civil communities of both countries. “For the immediate future, my base of operations will be Stanford University. But a part of me — an emotional part, an intellectual part, a spiritual part — will always remain in Russia,” he added.

48-year-old McFaul is considered the “architect” of the “reset” policy between Moscow and Washington. However, he is not a career diplomat.

Before entering the White House, McFaul was political science professor at Stanford University, California. He was teaching there from 1995 to 2009. In addition, he worked at the non-governmental Carnegie Center. McFaul is a slavist; he graduated from Stanford. He passed his PhD thesis at Oxford University in 1991. McFaul speaks Russian.


McFaul’s famous statements


Bloodhound Gang’s antic with Russian flag: Michael McFaul has condemned the actions of the American rock group Bloodhound Gang, whose bass player desecrated the Russian flag at a performance in Ukraine’s Odessa, as “disgusting.” At a performance in Odessa (Ukraine), bass guitarist of the band Evil Jared Hasselhoff thrust a Russian flag into his pants and literally wiped his behind with it. “I find the actions of Bloodhound Gang disgusting. I also condemn the act of violence against them,” McFaul tweeted, obviously referring to a subsequent incident at Anapa’s airport, when the band members were assaulted by local activists before boarding their flight.

Extradition of Edward Snowden to US: When NSA leaker Edward Snowden was staying in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, waiting for authorities’ decision on clarifying his status in Russia, Michael McFaul tweeted: “Mr. Snowden ought to be returned to the United States to face the felony charges against him. The U.S. is not asking for "extradition", but simply the return of Mr. Snowden. We have sent many people back to Russia".

Sentence to oppositionist Alexei Navalny: Opposition leader and candidate for Moscow mayor Alexei Navalny has been sentenced to five years in prison for masterminding a property embezzlement scheme at the Kirovles enterprise on July 18, 2013. “We are deeply disappointed in the conviction of Navalny and the apparent political motivations in this trial,” McFaul wrote in his Twitter.

Office of NGO stormed by police in Moscow: June 22, police have stormed the office of the movement “For Human Rights”. Michael McFaul tweeted, quoted by Russia Beyond the Headlines: “The U.S. is concerned by reports on the forcible seizure of the NGO For Human Rights office - the last instance in a series of intimidations of civil society in Russia.”

McFaul’s reflections on death of Max Shatto:Some in the press are portraying me as unwilling to engage with Russian officials or the public on these issues. As a worldwide practice, American ambassadors do not testify before foreign parliaments when summoned to do so. Yet, I am always willing to meet with anyone on any issue, including Duma deputies, if the objective of the meeting is to advance understanding between our two countries,” the diplomat wrote in his Livejournal blog.

Law banning adoption of Russian children by US families: When the State Duma adopted the so-called Dima Yakovlev law on December 21, 2012, after a series of deaths of adopted Russian children were made public, Michael McFaul made an official statement published on the US embassy’s website. “We are very concerned by measures in Federal Law № 186614-6 passed by the Russian Duma today that would link the fate of orphaned children to unrelated political issues, as well deprive Russian civil society activists engaged in “political activities” of the ability to work with Americans of their choice,” he wrote.

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