Politics

AP source: US unhappy with Russia envoy treatment

Feb. 22, 2012: American Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul looks on during an official ceremony to present his diplomatic credentials in Moscow's Kremlin.

Feb. 22, 2012: American Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul looks on during an official ceremony to present his diplomatic credentials in Moscow's Kremlin.  (Reuters)

The Obama administration has complained to Russia about harassment of the American ambassador to Moscow and will raise concerns about his security, a U.S. official said Friday.

The official said recent instances of anti-Americanism directed at Ambassador Michael McFaul had prompted the complaints to the Russian foreign ministry. The official added that McFaul has reported that his every move seems to be followed by crews from a government-controlled television station, prompting security concerns.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said the administration is taking the security concerns seriously and plans to raise them with the foreign ministry.

In a series of tweets on Thursday, the outspoken McFaul said he encounters crews from NTV, a government-controlled TV channel, wherever he goes and suggested that his email and phone calls may be being intercepted.

"Wonder who gives them my calendar? They wouldn't tell me. Wonder what the laws are here for such things?" he wrote.

In another, he asked, "Do they have a right to read my email and listen to my phone?"

A spokesman for NTV, which is owned by an arm of the state natural gas monopoly, said the presence of camera crews "is explained by a wide network of informers," according to the Interfax news agency.

On Thursday, the station showed video of McFaul and its reporters verbally sparring as he arrived for a meeting with Lev Ponomarev, one of Russia's most prominent human rights activists. In the five-minute clip, the reporter peppers him with questions about his meeting and after answering, McFaul complains about their following him.

"Your ambassador in our country goes around all the time without this sort of thing, not interfering in his work. You're with me everywhere, at home -- it's interesting. Aren't you ashamed to be doing this? It's an insult to your country when you do this," McFaul said in Russian, smiling but clearly irritated.

At another point, McFaul says: "Every time I come here, it seems like a wild country. It's not normal."

When one journalist objected to that characterization, McFaul replied: "No it's not normal. It doesn't happen with us, not in England, not in Germany, not in China -- only here and only with you."

On Friday, McFaul, a prolific Twitter user since he arrived in Moscow in January, tweeted that he had misspoken in bad Russian and did not mean to say Russia was "wild." Rather, he said he meant to say that the actions of NTV were "wild."

Then he engaged in a back and forth about the situation with a person whose Twitter handle is "prostitutkamila."

The State Department had no immediate comment on McFaul's choice of Twitter conversation partners.