US National Security Senior Director of Russian and Eurasian Affairs until recently, Michael McFaul, a 48 year old Stanford University professor, was appointed US ambassador to Russia at the end of last year. He’s widely known as someone who initiated the “reset” Russian policy but not only.
A long time Russia scholar, he has written about 20 books and many articles about Russian internal politics. At he same time, the newly fledged ambassador has rich experience in organizing color revolution in the post Soviet space.
It is confirmed by his monographs like: Russia's Unfinished Revolution: Political Change from Gorbachev to Putin, Popular Choice and Managed Democracy: The Russian Elections of 1999 and 2000, Democracy and Authoritarianism in the Рostcommunist World and Advancing Democracy Abroad: Why We Should and How We Can, as well as his own admissions during public appearances and US Congress special hearings. It was Michael McFaul who was the author of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) final report on specifics of working with Ukrainian electorate before the 2004 Ukraine elections, when Victor Yushchenko snatched victory that was widely noted by the US establishment.
A fluent Russian speaker, the new Washington envoy has already been to Russia and Ukraine many a time to study all walks of life voters opinions in order to find ways to influence them. He also took the most active part in working out and bringing into life political election technologies in the post Soviet space.
As he confessed publicly American non-government organizations spent totally $ 18,3 million to support Victor Yushchenko in the Ukraine presidential election in 2004. Though a history now, it’s curious to see how the US dollars were spent before and during the vote.
As the new US ambassador to Moscow recalls, the money came mainly through USAID channels and was spent along five directions for propaganda and information to be distributed among the voters, as well as among the electoral committees. As Michael McFaul said the money defined the outcome of the Ukrainian 2004 elections that was greeted so enthusiastically in Washington.
Upon his recommendation in the capacity of chief funds distributor, the major part of all these financial flows, $ 12,45 million or 68% of the total sum to be exact, was spent on the elections monitoring and spurring efforts of various political parties to come out in support of Victor Yushchenko.
The money went to support the mission of 250 US observers working for the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) that organized the work of all political parties and leaders and analyzed the pre-election process.
Some funds went to “district coordination centers” destined to survey the pre - election campaign and convey the corresponding information to the “central election observation group”. Partly the money went to the Committee of Voters of Ukraine through the US National Democratic Institute (NDI). The Committee surveyed the Ukrainian media outlets, organization of civil local monitoring groups and regional election observers training.
Aided by NDI and International Republican Institute (IRI), the US Freedom House allocated funds for civil society monitors training, ensuring voters turnout, distribution of pre-election propaganda posters and materials, the mission of international NGOs 1000 monitoring specialists, including “activists” from Georgia, Poland, Serbia and Slovakia. The IRI funded training of specialists in formation of interparty coalitions, pre-election planning, special activities among women and children and opinion study for all the parties supporting Yushchenko.
Simultaneously the NDI allocated money to ensure unity among pro Yushchenko parties supporters and to improve cooperation among election districts at local and regional levels. Some funds went to training the parties members, who selected specialists who would work with voters, as well as experts in electoral process analysis, relations with media, and exit polls counting.
The United States Association of Former Members of Congress aided by the US - Ukraine Foundation funded training in monitoring internal situation before and at the time of election. Some activities took place among the Ukraine security service officers. The goal was to cause a split among them along political lines and prevention of their participation in dispersals of voters protests.
$ 2,62 million came through American Association for Development to organize round tables with participation of Rada members, representatives of state structures and leaders of Ukrainian NGOs. A lot of attention was paid to professional improvement of heads of election committees. Special grants were received by civil groups standing for the Ukraine’s electoral legislation reform. In parallel the American Association for Development allocated money for training pro Yushchenko election committees personnel, parties members and lawyers. The methods to detect violations and rigging were a priority in the training course.
$ 1,13 million went to pro Yushchenko media, partly spent on training journalists of print and internet media to enhance their special skills in covering pre election campaign and election as a whole. A special foundation (Media Development Foundation) was opened at the US Kiev embassy to encourage individual journalists and NGO staffers, as well as individual media outlets. Michael McFaul admits special “grants” for the same purposes were provided by “some other Western embassies” in Ukraine.
Part of US funds for working with Ukrainian media was allocated through the OSCE channels.
$ 1,12 million went for the research in the field of presidential election and potential voters high turnout studies. It was also spent on local media pre-election agitation, public opinion surveys by research bodies, training election observers and civil society vote tellers enhancing their skills to survey exit polls.
The Institute for Sustainable Communities, National Endowment for Democracy, Ukrainian Eurasia foundation, and Committee on Democracy specially established at the US embassy in Kiev (it gave money to Ukrainian NGOs, including dissemination of election information) coordinated the funds distribution.
Special attention was paid to the strategy of disruption of first round election, that didn’t end in Victor Yushchenko’s favor, by spreading information about so called “significant violations occurred during the voting”. The information was prepared and spread by about 10 thousand people, mainly members of “The Committee of Voters of Ukraine”.
At last, $ 985 thousand was allocated through the American Bar Association Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative (ABA/CEELI) to hone electors, lawyers, party members and NGOs skills for the purpose of complete monitoring of pre-election campaign.
It’s worth to mention Michael McFaul saying the Victor Yushchenko’s victory in 2004 was mainly ensured by intensive cooperation with Ukrainian young people made possible thanks to the US money.
Afterwards Michael McFaul used this “experience” of manipulating Ukrainian voters extensively at the time the State Duma and presidential elections in Russia were organized and held in 2007-2008.
The US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs held special hearings on May 17, 2007. A decision was made to work out an adequate conceptual analytical study before the Russia’s would be pre-election campaigns start defining ways and methods to conduct corresponding activities.
The leading US analysts and Russia scholars were involved, including Michael McFaul. At the hearings he presented concrete recommendations and practical proposals that were accepted for implementation.
Right now the US experts prepare recommendations for the administration on rendering substantial financial, political and moral support to the opposition parties and individual Russian media outlets before the 2012 presidential election. The worked out strategy envisions to purposefully influence the Russian citizens working in state structures, employed in private business and elected into the State Duma. Remembering the Michael McFaul‘s statements in 2011, as head of US embassy in Moscow he has an intention to establish the structures for dialogue on human rights, media freedom, fight against corruption in Russia. While expressing his views to Radio Liberty in June 2011, McFaul said he had an intention to make the “reset” concept an instrument of involvement of the Russian government into democracy and human rights discussions.
It is suggested to support the individuals who possess the makings of leaders, no matter their views may be murky, during the elections. Special importance is attached to intensive propaganda activities among the citizens expressing their discontent with the incumbent regime’s policy, as well as with the young people who, as sociological centers studies show, make 60% of protesters gathered for the Academician Sakharov avenue for a meeting held on 24 December 2011.
Coming to Moscow in his new capacity, the former director of Stanford University Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law is to establish close contacts with the Russian “non-systematic” opposition hoping to prevent Vladimir Putin’s election victory at the coming presidential election, no matter Putin enjoys wide support among voters, as sociological surveys say. In Washington they would like to see someone else to win the race, someone with sympathy for the West and who’s plans do not include the defense of the Russian state interests. Michael McFaul thinks “some dictatorships” simply are not able to achieve progress in the development of democracy and should be assisted, as The New York Times wrote on February 24, 2011 in an article “Seizing Up Revolutions in Waiting”.
Larry Diamond, one of Stanford University professors, who knows him closely having worked together, said, it’s McFaul who, once in Russia, would be sticking to the policy of enhancing American values and principles, and he would also be trying to support and involve various social and political forces in Russia into his activities. That’s what The Stanford Daily reported on September 26, 2011.
All these activities will be coordinated by the new US ambassador to Russia, who never had any particular sympathy for the country. For instance, many a time he has openly expressed negative attitude towards Vladimir Putin, the head of the Russian Government. That’s what the New York Times (May 29, 2011) said and Michael McFaul himself wrote in the Foreign Affairs magazine (January-February 2008) as well as in his other numerous publications.
It was on his initiative the leading US newspapers started a series of publications aimed at the Vladimir Putin’s defeat or, at least the minimization of his victory, at the presidential elections in March 2012. They are not making a secret of the alternative goal: to weaken Vladimir Putin’s authority in case he wins the election, to undermine the Government’s policy aimed at solving the pressing socials and economic problems and to weaken the Moscow’s international standing in general.
The newly assigned US ambassador’s political portrait should be added by the following: going back to history he is the second head of the embassy who’s not a career diplomat. He supported the August 2008 Georgian aggression against South Ossetia. Not long ago he exerted efforts to exclude Russia from the process of defining the Libya’s future after Muammar Gaddafi’s overthrow in October 2011.
He also stands against legally binding obligations by the USA not to use missile defense against Russian strategic nuclear forces and achieving an agreement with Moscow on joint European missile defense on the basis of mutual acceptance and equality.
Finally. By the end of 2011 the US Congress confirmed $50 million for anti Russia propaganda before the Russian presidential election. It’s twice as much as the sum allocated for the very same purpose back in 2008.
This and the fact Michael McFaul is coming to Russia at the time between parliamentary and presidential elections gives much food for thought about non-terminating efforts on the part of Washington to make an open and multidimensional interference into Russian internal affairs. That’s what in substance is meant by the “reset” policy in US-Russian relations. The one, as some US experts say, had been elaborated by the very same Michael McFaul.