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Tue May 29, 2012, 11:54 AM

U.S. Envoy Ignites Russia Controversy With Bribe Accusation [View all]

By Henry Meyer and Ksenia Galouchko - 2012-05-29T11:54:34Z

Russia accused U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul of breaching diplomatic protocol by saying his host country bribed Kyrgyzstan to close an American air base.

McFaul in a May 25 lecture at the Moscow Higher School of Economics said Russia bought off the impoverished Central Asian state in 2009 as part of geopolitical rivalry with the U.S., according to the Russian state news service RIA Novosti. The remarks were “unprofessional” and went “far beyond the limits of diplomatic etiquette,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on its website late yesterday.

“This is not the first time that statements and actions by Mr. McFaul, who holds an important position, have been a cause for concern,” the ministry said. “Our understanding is that an ambassador’s role is to promote bilateral ties and not to spread blatant falsehoods through the media.”

Ties between Russia and the U.S. have become strained over Western efforts to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a bid by U.S. lawmakers to sanction Russian officials for human rights abuses and a planned U.S. missile-defense shield in Europe.



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